France first semi-finalist after seeing off Norway

France are the first team into the UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship semi-finals after a convincing 2-0 victory over Norway at Iceland’s national stadium in Laugardalur tonight.

Sandrine Soubeyrand’s charges made it two wins from two matchdays to continue as Group B leaders after first-half strikes from Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Hélène Fercocq subdued the Norwegians. Switzerland may yet overtake them although the Swiss side’s own three-point advantage over third-placed Norway is also still retrievable.

After a calm first 20 minutes with just one shot in total, the French managed to capitalise on their monopoly of possession when No9 Katoto headed in from close range after Christy Gavory’s free-kick from the left. Despite Norway’s attempts to turn the game around, their defence was fast asleep on 36 minutes when midfielder Fercocq strolled through for an easy goal. Emelyne Laurent came close to adding a second-half third, rounding keeper Hildegunn Sævik only to shoot across the face of goal. Inès Boutaleb also forced a great save out of Sævik while late substitute Estelle Laurier missed when through on goal.

The French may now be eyeing not only the final – which they have reached and lost three times – but also a first WU17 title. Lena Tyriberget’s team are also still keen to make an impact given Norway’s best effort in this competition remains a fourth place in 2009. However, to get to the semis, the Scandinavian side will need to beat already eliminated Republic of Ireland and hope France can do them a favour by defeating the Swiss.

Sandrine Soubeyrand, France
We played a serious game and deserved to win – we are here to win every match. We were very good technically today and it was a strong performance. After the first game we were not satisfied as we had lots of chances to score more goals, but today we were better in both attack and defence. All the players are good, they can all start games and we want all of them to take part in this championship. To go as far as possible in the competition everybody must be prepared to rotate. We selected certain players for the first match and different ones today, but that does not necessarily mean we will make four changes again for the next fixture.

Lena Tyriberget, Norway
It was a tough match against a very good team and we did not manage to play our own game. The French were quick up front so it was hard for us but it is a great experience for the players. France played a bit faster than in their first match against Ireland – they had more speed in their play, more one or two-touch passes and more combination play. We still have a chance to reach the semis and we will fight like Vikings in the final fixture against Ireland. We will prepare very well for it and give everything for the points, then we will see if it is enough. We came here hoping to fight for a semi-final place but knew we would have some tough games – as it should be in a championship. But if you can play your game, and get some luck along the way, it is possible to make the semis. We will fight to achieve our goal and then see if the other result goes our way.

France, the only team with 100% record after two matchdays, are also first into semis
Goals from Marie Antoinette Katoto and Hélène Fercocq enough to overcome winless Norway
Scandinanvians still capable of qualifying for last four but reliant on French favour
Norway v Ireland and France v Switzerland next up on Sunday