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  Qualifying Round

  

Group 9

Italy won UEFA EURO 2004 qualifying Group 9 but not before Wales had pushed them all the way to the final game having led by five points at the halfway stage.

Wales sprang the first surprise by beating Finland 2-0 in Helsinki in September 2002 while Italy were winning 2-0 in Azerbaijan. The following month, Italy were held at home by the then Yugoslavia, while Finland gained a 3-0 victory against Azerbaijan. Four days later, Wales triumphed 2-1 against Italy in Cardiff thanks to Craig Bellamy's late winner, with Yugoslavia up to second with a 2-0 win against Finland. The Welsh lead was extended in November as they won 2-0 in Azerbaijan.

The renamed Serbia and Montenegro's challenge faltered in February 2003,when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Azerbaijan - having led 2-0 at one stage. The next month Wales eased to a 4-0 win against the former Soviet Republic, while Finland lost 2-0 in Italy, whose form now revived. Civil unrest saw Serbia and Montenegro's home game four days later against Wales postponed, and when they returned to action they lost 3-0 in Finland in June. 

Four days later Azerbaijan came from behind to beat Serbia and Montenegro 2-1, with two goals in the last two minutes, leading to the resignation of beaten coach Dejan Savicevic. Finland's hopes of qualification were dented on the same evening as Italy won 2-0 in Helsinki.

Wales still held a two-point lead over Italy at the summit. However, their small squad was weakened by injuries when they travelled to Belgrade on the rearranged date of 20 August and lost 1-0. The group's defining game was then played in Milan in early September, as Wales held out for an hour before a Filippo Inzaghi hat-trick helped Italy clinch a 4-0 win. Finland won 2-1 in Azerbaijan.

There could have been one more twist four days later, though, as Italy were held to a draw in Belgrade by Serbia and Montenegro. However, in Cardiff, Wales missed their chance to reclaim pole position by drawing 1-1 with now eliminated Finland, although a top-two place was assured. So, it was left to Italy to beat Azerbaijan 4-0 to win the group, as Wales lost their final qualifier 3-2 at home to Serbia and Montenegro, but still entered the play-off draw.
  - UEFA.com

 
Azerbaijan 0-2 Italy 07/09/02
  Ahmadov og 33
Del Piero 64
Finland 0-2 Wales 07/09/02
  Hartson 30
Davies 72
Italy 1-1 Serbia-Montenegro 12/10/02
Del Piero 39 Mijatovic 27
Finland 3-0 Azerbaijan 12/10/02
Agaev og 13
Tihinen 59
Hyypia 71
 
Wales 2-1 Italy 16/10/02
Davies 12
Bellamy 71
Del Piero 32 
Serbia-Montenegro 2-0 Finland 16/10/02
Kovacevic 55
Mihajlovic pen 85
 
Azerbaijan 0-2 Wales 20/11/02
  Speed 9
Hartson 68
Serbia-Montenegro 2-2 Azerbaijan 12/02/03
Mijatovic pen 23
Lazetic 52
Gurbanov 59, 78
Italy 2-0 Finland 29/03/03
Vieri 6, 22  
Wales 4-0 Azerbaijan 29/03/03
Bellamy 1
Speed 40
Hartson 44
Giggs 52
 
Finland 3-0 Serbia-Montenegro 07/06/03
Hyppia 19
Kolkka 45
Forssell 55
 
Finland 0-2 Italy 11/06/03
  Totti 31
Del Piero 72
Azerbaijan 2-1 Serbia-Montenegro 11/06/03
Gurbanov pen 85
Ismaylov 89
Boskovic 28
Serbia-Montenegro 1-0 Wales 20/08/03
Mladenovic 73  
Italy 4-0 Wales 06/09/03
Inzaghi 59, 62, 70
Del Piero pen 76
 
Azerbaijan 1-2 Finland 06/09/03
Ismaylov 88 Tainio 52
Nurmela 74
Wales 1-1 Finland 10/09/03
Davies 3 Forssell 90
Serbia-Montenegro 1-1 Italy 10/09/03
Ilic 81 Inzaghi 22
Italy 4-0 Azerbaijan 11/10/03
Vieri 15
Inzaghi 24, 87
Di Vaio 64
 
Wales 2-3 Serbia-Montenegro 11/10/03
Hartson pen 24
Earnshaw 90
Vukic 4
Milosevic 82
Ljuboja 87

 

 

 

 

  Group Standings

Group 9
Italy
Wales
Serbia
Finland
Azerbaijan

P
8
8
8
8
8

W
5
4
3
3
1

D
2
1
3
1
1

L
1
3
2
4
6

F
17
13

11
9
5

A
4
10
11
10
20

Pt
17
13
12
10
4

 

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