Italy have secured their place in the UEFA-CONCACAF play-off for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany after a 4-2 victory gave them a 5-2 aggregate win against Switzerland.
Having lost in the UEFA play-offs for the eight group winners, Italy earned a second chance after defeating Ukraine while Switzerland did likewise by overcoming Denmark. In the first leg on Saturday, Alessia Tuttino's 86th-minute goal earned Italy a 1-0 home win, Switzerland having had Rahel Graf sent off before the break.
In tonight's return in Aarau, a goal apiece from Patrizia Panico and Elisabetta Tona and two from Elisa Camporese − the first a penalty − took Italy to the verge of a first World Cup appearance since 1999 despite Sandy Maendly's double for the Swiss. "Congratulations to Switzerland for a great performance," said a gracious Pietro Ghedin, Italy coach. "We have to earn our reward in the play-off now."
Opposite number Béatrice Von Siebenthal acknowledged the best team over the two legs prevailed. "Italy earned their win on balance," explained Von Siebenthal, who has been nominated as 2010 FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women's Football. "We produced a good first-half performance tonight but Italy scored the first goal unfortunately. That was the decisive moment and we couldn't improve in the second half."
Italy will go into a two-legged tie against the country that finishes third at the CONCACAF qualifiers in Mexico which conclude on 8 November. The matches are scheduled for 20 and 27 November and the winners will join 15 other teams in the draw on 29 November, with holders Germany, England, France, Norway and Sweden already representing Europe. Australia, Japan, Korea DPR and New Zealand have also qualified for the event from 26 June to 17 July 2011.