UEFA Euro 2017 Qualifying - Group 2 round-up: Finns all-but secure at least a play-off berth

Unless Portugal claw back a goal difference of nine, Finland will be assured of at least a play-off place after picking up four points this week.

UEFA Euro 2017 Qualifying - Group 2 round-up: Finns all-but secure at least a play-off berth
Finland celebrate after their big win over Ireland. (Photo: SPL)

With Group 2 leaders Spain not playing any Euro 2017 qualifiers in this international break, the chance opened up for second-placed Finland to apply the pressure - and they took it.

A win and a draw for the Scandinavian nation means they are now just five points behind the leaders and assured of at least a spot in the play-offs - unless Portugal can muster up a couple of huge victories.

Their splendid efforts over the past few days have now rendered those of the Republic of Ireland and Montenegro meaningless, who have since seen their chances of qualification vanish as a result.

No messing from the Nordic nation

Finland wasted no time in all-but-securing a top two spot this week. A comprehensive victory over Ireland and a goalless draw with Portugal leaves the latter needing to make up a goal difference of nine to steal second place.

The Fins kicked things off with a splendid 4-1 victory over Ireland, with Emmi Alanen, Jenny Danielsson, Natalia Kuikka and Linda Sällstrom all on the scoresheet.

Sunderland's Stephanie Roche mustered up a consolation for the visitors but, with it coming just 14 minutes from time and only making the score 3-1, it could not inspire a miraculous comeback as the Irish saw their European dream end.

The result that practically ensured progression from the group stage - be it straight to next year's competition or to the seventh - eighth play-off - was nowhere near as emphatic; a lacklustre draw with Portugal, but it means the same nonetheless for a promising young Finnish side.

An intriguing affair between Finland and Portugal ended in a lacklustre goalless draw. (Photo: SPL)
An intriguing affair between Finland and Portugal ended in a lacklustre goalless draw. (Photo: SPL)

Meaningless wins for Portugal and Ireland over minnows Montenegro

While qualification was still a possibility, Portugal kept their chances alive by beating bottom side Montenegro three goals to nil - all three coming from Edite Fernandes, who picked up the match ball as a result.

However, the three points meant nothing after they drew with Finland, with the Portuguese needing to overcome their group rivals to keep themselves in the hunt for a spot at Euro 2017. Now, they need to hope Finland lose their last two games while they win their two, and the goal difference of nine needs to be trimmed down in the process.

Ireland, on the other hand, took their frustration of elimination out on the side at the foot of the standings, hammering Montenegro 9-0 after the Finns too ended the hopes the Girls in Green had of a trip to the Netherlands next summer.

There were hat-tricks for Roche and Aine O'Gorman, while the other trio of goals were made up of strikes from Megan Connolly, Louise Quinn and Fiona O'Sullivan.

It was a dead rubber fixture in truth, but one that certainly gave Ireland and their home fans something to cheer about after a disappointing week.

Finland are all but qualified now. (Photo: Soccerway)
Finland are all but qualified now. (Photo: Soccerway)