England show no sympathy for hosts with first win
England claimed their first victory at the UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship to move second in Group A and effectively end Iceland’s challenge with a matchday to spare.
However, the 3-1 success for John Griffiths’s team in Akranes hinged on Ashleigh Plumptre’s goal midway through the first half, at a time when the Icelanders were playing their best football of the tournament. Charlotte Devlin further doused home fires soon after the interval, although Andrea Mist Pálsdóttir’s fine free-kick brought a small consolation.
The early inroads had been made by Iceland, however. Kim Olafsson dragged a shot wide when released by skipper Pálsdóttir, then forced a desperate English block as the home nation began determinedly. Agla Maria Albertsdottir also troubled the visiting rearguard with a jinking run, only to fire over. So it was against the run of play that England struck in the 28th minute of a sometimes feisty opening period. Charlotte Devlin measured her high through pass perfectly for attacking midfielder Plumptre to get in behind the Iceland centre-backs and finish first time. Plumptre, a player with senior domestic football experience, had earlier rued the offside flag that cancelled out her impressive header.
England’s No17 was involved in the ultimately clinching second goal on 44 minutes, her searching ball being flicked on by Megan Finnigan for Devlin to score clinically. It was not what the 713 crowd had been hoping for. Pálsdóttir’s superbly executed 66th-minute set piece was – although Chloe Kelly then kept Úlfar Hinriksson’s side busy at the other end, culminating in Georgia Allen’s close-range third following a late corner. Thus the hosts’ prospects of booking a second WU17 final are all but over, but for Griffiths and company, a third last-four appointment is a realistic ambition.
• England win to go second in Group A but Iceland’s good start counts for nothing
• Ashleigh Plumptre lofts England ahead, Charlotte Devlin nets second and Georgia Allen gets third
• Consolatory note struck by Icelandic captain Andrea Mist Pálsdóttir
• Next in Group A: Germany v England and Spain v Iceland on Sunday