DEVENTER, Netherlands: Eugenie Le Sommer converted a late penalty to lift France past diehard Iceland 1-0 while Nina Burger’s early goal gave Austria an equally slim win over 10-player Switzerland at the women’s Euro on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
In Tilburg, Le Sommer sent Iceland’s keeper Gudbjerg Gunnarsdottir the wrong way to score from the spot on 86 minutes after substitute striker Elin Metta Jensen had brought down Amandine Henry in the box.
In the Group C opener in Deventer earlier on Tuesday, Austrian captain Burger scored 15 minutes in with a clinical right-foot finish after a pass from Sarah Zadrazil in a clash of Euro newcomers.
Switzerland were reduced to 10 players after Rahel Kiwic was sent off for bringing down Burger just outside the box with half an hour to go.
France had won seven of their previous nine encounters with Iceland, but they struggled against the diehard defense on Tuesday.
French midfielder Clarisse Le Bihan sent her shot wide and Dagny Brynjarsdottir headed over the crossbar at the other end in the first half.
In the second, France stepped up their pressure and Iceland’s defence had a hard time stopping a ball flicked by captain Wendie Renard from Camille Abily’s free kick.
Moments later, Renard’s header hit the crossbar after a corner, but then the defence collapsed as Jensen, who had been on the pitch for just three minutes, brought down Henry.
France coach Olivier Echouafni said: “We have the win, that’s the most important thing.
“We have to be effective. I love these games because the girls were in difficulty, but they were patient. They have been rewarded. Everyone did well.”
Austria had lost six of their previous eight encounters with Switzerland, but they were the more aggressive team in the first half.
Solid throughout, the Austrian defense all but eliminated Switzerland star Ramona Bachmann of Chelsea.
After the break, Kiwic saw her header cleared off the goal line by Sarah Puntigam.
Puntigam then almost punished Kiwic for her foul on Burger, but her free-kick was kept out by Gaelle Thalmann in the Swiss goal.
Austrian keeper Manuela Zinsberger then diverted a long-range shot by Swiss substitute Vanessa Bernauer to safety.
Ten minutes from the end, Bachmann saw her shot deflected by the Austrian defense just over the crossbar as Austria hung on, although Thalmann prevented Viktoria Pinther from scoring a second.
“Our first-ever Euro game and a victory, that makes us very proud,” said Austria coach Dominik Thalhammer.
“It was a very good performance, tactically and physically too. We controlled the game most of the time.”
“It’s definitely not what we wanted,” said Switzerland coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, blaming nerves and pass quality for the loss.