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  Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Norway out for France
Women's Euro 2001
By BBC Sport Online's women's football correspondent Tony Leighton

As England began preparing for the second of their Euro 2001 Group A matches, against Sweden on Wednesday, Group B finally swung into action.

Norway, the tournament's joint favourites alongside England's Group A opponents Germany, beat France 3-0 while Italy won 2-1 against Denmark.

Despite their squad missing a couple of key players, Olympic champions Norway won comfortably at the Donaustadion.

They were without star striker Marianne Pettersen, who joined Fulham at the start of last season and decided to stay in London rather than play in the Euro finals, while Anne Kristin was missing after retiring from international football.

France were at full strength but were no match for the Norwegians, who scored all three of their goals in the first half.

France's Aline Riera battles for the ball with Norway's Ragnhild Gulbrandsen
Norway just too strong for France

After Monica Knudsen's 14th minute opener, Emmanuelle Sykora scored a 20th minute own goal and Dagny Mellgren hit the third goal five minutes before the interval.

The opening exchanges saw the game swing from end to end, with the onus firmly on attack from both sides.

Norwegian forward Ragnhild Gulbrandsen sent a glancing header narrowly wide in the third minute, before Sandrine Soubeyrand fired a vicious free-kick just over the crossbar at the other end.

Norway goalkeeper Bente Nordby, who was winning her 100th cap, was hardly troubled throughout the game as her team fully justified their Group B seeding.

The Azzuri set themselves up as the likely group runners-up with two goals from Patrizia Panico giving them an important win against the battling Danes.

Intensive work-out

Striker Panico brilliantly opened the scoring in the 12th minute and added a second goal 27 minutes into the second period.

Danish substitute Julie Rydhal Bukh reduced the arrears three minutes later, but the Italians held on for a hard earned victory.

The Italy-Denmark match was watched on TV by the England squad at the team hotel in Erfurt.

But while Norway and France were tussling it out in Ulm, Hope Powell's players were involved in a fierce battle of their own - an all-squad North versus South contest at the local ten-pin bowling alley.

The fun evening ended a day of preparation for Wednesday's crucial meeting with Sweden.

Victory for England could take them to within touching distance of qualification for the semi-finals.

The team line-up in their intensive work-out on the training field suggested that they will change formation from their usual 4-4-2 in order to combat the fast-raiding Swedes.


Final

Semi-finals

Group A

Group B

Tournament news

Background features

Finals focus

ENGLAND SQUAD
Links to more Womens Euro 2001 stories are at the foot of the page.


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