Romania 1-1 Portugal (agg: 1-1, Portugal win on away goals)
Portugal’s women’s team made history today by qualifying for Euro 2017 after a 1-1 draw in Romania to book their place at a major tournament for the first time.
Following the goalless draw in the first leg of the playoff in Lisbon last week, an extra time goal by Andreia Norton proved decisive as the Seleção won through on away goals.
Portugal take their place alongside another 15 nations at next summer’s European Championship to be staged in the Netherlands.
The achievement is all the more remarkable given that after four games of the group stage Portugal had only three points, but in a storming second half of the qualifying campaign Francisco Neto’s team earned 10 points to squeeze into a playoff place.
Portugal dominated the first leg of the playoff at the Restelo stadium last Friday, but could not make their superiority count missing a host of chances including a penalty.
It was a similar story for much of today’s game, with Portugal on top for most of match in Cluj. However, few chances were created by either team and after 180 minutes without a goal in the tie, extra time began with penalties looking likely to decide the winner.
But the deadlock was finally broken in the 105th minute when some fine wing play by Ana Borges set up substitute Norton, whose firm shot from 15 yards beat the goalkeeper and a defender on the goal-line.
Romania hit back though, with Laura Rus equalising just six minutes later, making for a nervy final 10 minutes. Portugal held on to book their place at Euro 2017, triggering wild and emotional celebrations among the players and coaching staff at the final whistle.
“We’re having a tremendous celebration right now and I hope it’s shared by all the Portuguese people,” said coach Francisco Neto immediately after the game.
by Tom Kundert
Portugal’s history makers: Patrícia Morais, Matilde Fidalgo, Sílvia Rebelo, Carole Costa, Ana Borges, Dolores Silva, Suzane Pires, Amanda da Costa (Fátima Pinto, 46’), Cláudia Neto, Carolina Mendes (Diana Silva, 63’), Ana Leite (Andreia Norton, 78’)
[1-0] Andreia Norton, 105’
[1-1] Laura Rus, 111’