Italy picked up away a fourth straight win in the group against Portugal in Estoril thanks to a goal from Brescia forward Daniela Sabatino but thanks above all to a solid performance from the entire group. The Azzurre won 1-0 at a difficult place to visit and go clear top of the group, on 12 points ahead of Belgium on nine.
It was the eighth defeat in ten for Portugal against Italy in a match which was hard-fought until the end.
Lining up in 4-4-2, Giuliani was in goal, Gama, Linari, Guagni and Bergamaschi were in defence. Sabatino, Girelli, Rosucci and Galli made up the midfield with a front two of Bonansea and Mauro. The hosts went close through Carolina Mendes after two minutes as she missed the target. The more concrete chances came from Milena Bertolini’s side as the Azzurre almost went ahead through a great Bonansea shot in the 27th minute that was put out for a corner. Ten minutes later, the tireless Bonansea went on a great run before picking out Brescia’s Daniela Sabatino who was able to turn the ball in first-time to beat Patricia Morais. The final chance of the half saw Vanessa Marques miss a chance to level in the 44th minute with a header.
Portugal started the second half on the attack and Diana Silva missed after 56 minutes. Three minutes later, Sabatino forced a good save. The second half was lively with a chance for Sabatino on the break in the 70th minute but Morais saved and then two minutes later Rosucci saw her shot kept out by the goalkeeper in stages. The hosts were dangerous again as Diana Silva missed the target from an excellent location. Portugal pushed late but Italy defended with tooth and nail to hang on to a deserved win.
Results, standings and schedule for Group 6
15th September 2017: ITALY 5-0 Moldava
19th September 2017: Romania 0-1 ITALY
24th October 2017: ITALY 3-0 Romania
28th November 2017: Portugal 0-1 ITALY
Table : ITALY 12 points, Belgium 9, Portugal and Romania 3, Moldova 0.
The Azzurre’s upcoming fixtures
6th April 2018: Moldova vs. ITALY
10th April 2018: ITALY vs. Belgium
8th June 2018: ITALY vs. Portugal
4th September 2018: Belgium vs. ITALY
The top teams from each of the seven groups will progress directly to the World Cup, while the four second best teams will take part in play-offs to see who’ll advance to France