Ben Gilby rounds up all the news from the myriad of international matches over the past five days (14/4/21).
Euro 2021 Qualifying Play-Offs:
Northern Ireland completed their fairy tale qualification for the European Championships after seeing off Ukraine, who are ranked 25 places above them in the world, 4-1 over the two legs.
In the first match played in Kovalivka on 9th April, Kenny Shiels’ charges started strongly. Marissa Callaghan, the Northern Ireland captain saw an early effort charged down before Nadene Caldwell narrowly missed connecting with Kirsty McGuinness’ cross.
Northern Ireland took the lead five minutes in when Tamila Khimich’s cross field ball was intercepted by Rachel Furness who went on to score.
The hosts levelled on 22 minutes when Daryna Apanaschenko headed home Iya Andrushchak’s cross.
Despite losing Furness to injury, Northern Ireland kept plugging away and received their reward just before the hour mark when Simone Magill got free and shot powerfully home to ensure the visitors took a 2-1 lead back for the second leg.
That second leg saw a clinical and controlled performance from Northern Ireland as they clinched qualification in style. The second half performance was particularly impressive and goals from captain Marissa Callaghan and a late clincher from Nadene Caldwell sealed the 4-1 aggregate success. This is almost certainly the greatest achievement in any sport for Northern Ireland and arguably one of the most amazing successes in UK sport.
Switzerland narrowly qualified for the European Championships after a play-off with the Czech Republic that was tight and tense all the way. The first leg in Chomutov saw the Czechs lead for the vast majority of the second half through Katerina Svitková’s penalty. The Swiss needed a penalty of their own in the last minute of normal time from Ana-Maria Crnogorčević to leave with a draw.
The second leg in Thun three days later followed a strangely similar pattern as Svitková gave the Czech’s a second half lead, with Coumba Sow levelling just before the hour mark. No further goals were scored, including extra time, so the qualification place was decided by a penalty shoot-out.
The tension ratcheted up with the first three spot kicks being missed as Switzerland’s Malin Gut and Sow failed along with Eva Bartoňová for the visitors. The Swiss never looked back after that with Alisha Lehmann, Lia Wälti and Crnogorčević all on target. Lucie Martínková and Svitková missed the decisive kicks for the Czechs, so it was Switzerland who qualified for the finals in England 3-2 on penalties.
The final qualifying play-off was another tight clash between Portugal and Russia. The decisive moment came in the 51st minute of the first leg when the only goal over the two games was scored by Nelli Korovkina.
The international action kicked off with Belgium hosting Norway at Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium. In a game which was largely even, the visitors emerged 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Guro Reiten and Lisa-Marie Utland.
Belarus gained a 2-1 win over India in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Shuppo Nastassia’s penalty gave them the lead after 66 minutes before Pilipenka Hanna made it 2-0 on 75. India got a goal back in second half stoppage time – a thirty yard rocket from Sangita Basfore.
Japan thrashed Paraguay 7-0 in a thoroughly dominant performance which saw them have 16 shots on target to their opponents’ none. Two goals from Mana Iwabuchi, an own goal from Tania Riso and further strikes from Yuika Sugasawa, Yuka Momiki and Mina Tanaka settled matters.
Denmark dominated proceedings away to the Republic of Ireland but could only emerge with a 1-0 win thanks to a ninth minute goal from Nicoline Sorensen.
Argentina and Venezuela played out a 0-0 draw.
Spain gained a fantastic 1-0 win over Netherlands in Marbella with Patricia Guijarro scoring the only goal after 31 minutes. The Spaniards mustered seven shots on target to the Dutch’s zero and had 69% possession in an impressive victory.
Wales went down to a 3-0 defeat to Canada in Cardiff. The Welsh put in a good performance but couldn’t match their visitors on the scoreboard. Deanne Rose, Evelyne Viens and Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming were on target.
Germany defeated a makeshift Australia 5-2 in Wiesbaden. Our full report of the game can be read by clicking here.
Italy edged out Iceland 1-0 in an even encounter in Coverciano. Arianna Caruso’s goal after 72 minutes was the difference.
Sweden gained an impressive 1-1 draw with the USA in Solna, and it could have been even better as the world champions needed a penalty from Megan Rapinoe three minutes from full time to equalise. Lina Hurtig put the Swedes ahead seven minutes before half-time. It was the first time the USA had not won a game they have played since November 2019.
Mexico drew 0-0 with Slovenia in Austria.
Finland came from 2-0 down after 19 minutes to earn a 2-2 draw in Austria. Early strikes from Nicola Billa and Marie Hobinger gave the Austrians a flying start. Two second half goals from Eveliina Summanen ensured the Finns ended the game level.
A goal from Tine de Caigny after 19 minutes was enough to give Belgium a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in Brussels.
Japan hit seven goals again with no reply for the second time in three days, with Panama the victims this time. Yuika Sugasawa’s hat-trick plus goals from Riza Shimitsu, Yui Hasegawa, Yuka Momiki and Hina Sugita completed the rout.
Belarus won 3-1 in Uzbekistan despite going behind after just eight minutes to a goal from Nllufar Kudratova. Anastaslya Shlapakova levelled matters just before half-time with Pollna Shatsllenia and Karina Olkhovik settling matters in the second half.
England suffered a 2-0 defeat to Canada in Stoke. Our full report can be read by clicking here.
Germany completed a very pleasing few days, chalking up eight goals in two games with a 3-1 win over Norway. Chelsea’s Guro Reiten gave the visitors an early lead before Laura Freigang levelled just four minutes later. Further goals from Linda Dallmann and Paulina Krumbiegel completed the victory.
Italy hosted Iceland for the second time in four days. This time, the outcome was a 1-1 draw. The Italians got off to the best possible start when Valentina Giacinti scored in the opening minutes. The scores were level five minutes before the break thanks to Karolina Vilhjálmsdóttir.
Netherlands produced an outstanding performance in defeating an Australia side missing three first choice defenders. Our full report can be read by clicking here.
Sweden returned from Poland with a 4-2 win. Ewa Pajor put the Poles ahead on 26 minutes, but there was a dramatic turn around with two goals in six minutes before the break from Stina Blackstenius. Pajor equalised for the home team just after the break. Again, there were two goals in quick succession from the Swedes just before the end of the half – this time through Caroline Seger and Lina Hurtig – to seal the victory.
Spain gained a routine 3-0 win over Mexico – clocking up 78% possession for the ninety minutes in the process. Despite this domination, it took until the 66th minute for them to score, with Marta Cardona finding the net. Nahikari Garcia scored twice in the last fifteen minutes to complete the win.
Wales earned a 1-1 draw with Denmark in Cardiff. Pernille Harder put the Danes ahead on 24 minutes after escaping through and slotting home. The Welsh, in Gemma Grainger’s second game as head coach, competed well and, following a brilliant team move, the equalised on the hour from an eye catching Jess Fishlock volley.
Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up the two friendly games of the France squad against England and USA.
France – England on April 9, 2021 (3-1):
For the first time in years, the only Olympique Lyonnais player on the field, Nikita Parris, was not in the France squad but in the England squad. In fact, only Eugénie Le Sommer was in the France squad but did not play in this game.
Due to Covid19 in Lyon, Corinne Diacre, French coach had to change a lot her team and put no less than five Paris Saint Germain players to start the game: Perle Moroni, Kadidiatou Diani, Grace Geyoro, Sandy Baltimore and Marie-Antoinette Katoto. French team, which played in 4-4-2, gave the England team 62% of possession and used the technicality and speed of their midfielders and strikers to try to quickly go towards England goal each time they had the ball.
There was almost the same number of shots (17 for France and 18 for England) with 8 on target for France and only 6 on target for England. At the end France won 3-1 in part due to the skills of its strikers, with a special mention to Sandy Baltimore, and to an outstanding game from its goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin. Goals for France from Sandy Baltimore (32), Viviane Asseyi (63 penalty), and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (82). The goal for England from Fran Kirby (79 penalty).
If the penalty for England cannot be discussed because the fault from Torrent is obvious, the penalty for France has been discussed. In my own opinion, I think there should have been a penalty; when we look at the replay, we can see that when Daly collides with De Almeida, the ball is not here anymore so she cannot argue that she was playing the ball, she was just late in this action.
In summary, without Olympique Lyonnais players, France team had a lot of problems in defence where Wendie Renard and Griedge Mbock Bathy were badly missed in the center. However, France team produced a fairly good game in the middle and in front. If we add those two missing defenders and Delphine Cascarino, Amel Majri, Eugénie Le Sommer, Selma Bacha, Melvine Malard, and Sakina Karchaoui to this squad, France could have an impressive team for the European Championships.
France – USA on April 13, 2021 (0-2):
Only two players from Paris Saint Germain (Grace Geyoro and Marie-Antoinette Katoto) and one from Olympique Lyonnais (Eugénie Le Sommer) were fielded at the beginning of the match which led to an outrageous domination by the USA team in the first half.
Without another outstanding performance of its goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, France team would have probably have been more than two goals behind USA at the end of the first half. With the entrance of Sandy Baltimore, from Paris Saint Germain, in second half, we saw a little bit more action in front of USA goal but Baltimore alone was not able to really change the outcome of this game.
In second half, the USA controlled the game and secured their play by keeping the ball in the middle without trying to score more goals.
Goals for USA came from Megan Rapinoe (5 penalty) and Alex Morgan (19).
Should we worry about the real level of France squad? I think that the result of England which lost against Canada make the victory of France team on April 9 less impressive and that we know now that without the major Paris Saint Germain and Olympique Lyonnais players in the team, France is far from the level of the other teams. Let’s hope that players from these two major teams in France will be all available and all in good fit for European Championships.
Netherlands 5-0 Australia (14/4/21).
By Ben Gilby
Despite producing a performance which was arguably better than in their defeat to Germany on Saturday, the Matildas, without three first choice defenders went down to a heavy loss in Nijmegen.
The Dutch, who came into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Spain at the weekend, were dominant in possession in the early stages, but it was possession from patient passing rather than pressing.
Ironically, Australia had begun to look more solid at the back, largely due to the presence of Emma Checker, but with five minutes gone, all that counted for nothing.
Mary Fowler misjudged her pass which went straight to an orange shirt. Within the twinkle of an eye, Vivianne Miedema got a shot away which was pushed out by Mackenzie Arnold into the path of her Arsenal team mate Jill Roord who couldn’t miss.
The Matildas tried to hit back and seven minutes later a one-two between Sam Kerr and Checker resulted in the ball flying over the bar.
Back came the Netherlands and Miedema hit a shot from long range which was parried by Arnold and cleared for a corner by Checker.
The pressure continued to grow and with twenty minutes gone the Dutch doubled their lead. Danielle van de Donk played in Lieke Martens who hit a shot from the left hand side of the box. The ball bounced in front of Arnold and went under her arms into the net.
Four minutes later, Arnold saved The Matildas after a glorious move from the Dutch. Dominique Janssen had the ball out on the right and fed van der Donk who then played in Martens. The scorer of Holland’s second goal played a delightful reverse pass to Roord who got a shot away which Arnold blocked with her feet.
There was no such luck for Australia on 27 minutes when the heavy press from the Netherlands forced an error and Miedema passed across to Manchester United’s Jackie Groenen who swept the ball into the net for 3-0.
It could have got even worse three minutes later and it was Miedema involved again. This time she found Martens who curled a great effort just wide.
As the half entered its final five minutes, Australia were finally able to launch some offensive moves. Hayley Raso got free on the left, cut inside and got a shot away which Sari van Veenendaal held and it remained 3-0 at the break.
Ahead of the second half, The Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson brought on Dylan Holmes for her debut and the former Adelaide United star would go on to produce an excellent performance amidst a real baptism of fire.
Australia continued to create coming forward with a real opportunity coming just before the hour mark when Kerr combined with Emily van Egmond to play in Raso. The Everton star’s cross towards Kerr who found her way into the box was just cleared before the Chelsea hot-shot could get there.
The Netherlands responded instantly as Miedema pulled a ball back for van de Donk who forced Arnold into a save.
Back came the Matildas and Checker got forward and played in a dangerous ball which Stefanie van der Gragt sliced out for a corner. The flag kick came in to van Egmond who fed Holmes outside the box and the debutant’s half volley was just over the bar.
The hosts made Australia pay for those two missed opportunities with a great piece of skill. Martens played an outstanding cross field ball towards substitute Lineth Beerenstein. Arnold came out to meet her, but Beerenstein got there first and touched it over the Matildas keeper and into the net.
Within three minutes, even more salt was rubbed into Australian wounds and it was all too easy when Miedema crossed in and Holmes’ attempted clearance went straight to van de Donk and the Arsenal star was not going to miss.
There was one further opportunity for the Matildas to get a goal back. Holmes combined with Emily Gielnik who played it on to Caitlin Foord. Her shot was parried by van Veenendaal into the path of Holmes but the follow up went wide.
It’s been a tough two games in four days for Australia. Ultimately they played two of the top teams in the world whilst unable to put together a full strength squad. It was not unexpected that they would lose both of these games, but even the most pessimistic Matildas fan would not have expected ten goals to be conceded in those matches.
Teams: NETHERLANDS: van Veenendaal, Janssen, van der Gragt, Nouwen, van Dongen, Spitse, van de Donk, Groenen, Roord, Miedema, Martens. Substitutes used: Beerenstein (for Spitse 45), van Es (for Janssen 62), Snoeijs (for Miedema 73), Folkertsma (for Groenen 82), Janssen (for Martens 82),
Scorers: Roord 5, Martens 20, Groenen 27, Beerenstein 67, van der Donk 70.
AUSTRALIA: Arnold, Goad, Brock, Kennedy, Luik, Fowler, van Egmond, Raso, Checker, Kerr, Ford. Substitutes used: Holmes (for Fowler 45), Gielnik (for Raso 62), Mastrantonio (for Brock 79).
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England 0-2 Canada (14/4/21)
By Ben Gilby
England suffered another defeat in a game of few real clear cut chances in Stoke.
The Lionesses got off to the worst possible start after just three minutes when Manchester City’s Janine Beckie was able to run through the midfield and played a ball on towards Evelyne Viens who was in an offside position. Demi Stokes, coming back into the team after a spell out injured, could only prod the ball towards Viens in to fire Canada in front.
Five minutes, later, the Lionesses fashioned an opportunity when Georgia Stanway looked up and saw Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe off her line and the City star hit a long range effort just wide.
England continued to push forward but struggled to find the final ball. Canada were stacking the midfield which made it challenging for the likes of Fran Kirby to get the sort of pass that they would turn into a potential goal scoring opportunity at club level.
Therefore, it took until just before the half hour mark for their next serious attempt. The Lionesses were awarded a free kick just outside the box, right of centre. Jordan Nobbs stepped up and rifled it in with Labbe forced to tip it onto the bar.
Shortly afterwards, Stanway had another long range effort which flew over the bar.
Five minutes before the break, Canada produced a rare serious chance on goal when Rebecca Quinn’s side foot half volley from outside the box was pushed over the top by Carly Telford for a corner. Lauren Hemp cleared Beckie’s ball in comfortably.
England responded with Hemp getting free down right and playing a ball in for Beth England who got ahead Shelina Zadorsky but hit her left footed effort wide.
The Lionesses began the second period on the front foot with a Beth England header being claimed by Labbe five minutes in.
Just after the hour mark, Canada began to consistently threaten again but both teams were still finding it tough to make that telling final pass to transfer chances into potential goals.
Lucy Bronze entered the fray with twenty-five minutes left and her first job was to put the ball behind for a corner after Nichelle Prince got a dangerous ball in from the right.
Nobbs created real damage down the right on 68 minutes and played a glorious cross field ball towards substitute Ella Toone but Jayde Riviere managed to intercept for the Canadians in time.
In the last ten minutes, there was another great chance for England as Hemp got away and advanced into the box. Just as the Norfolk born star was about to get a shot away, Vanessa Gilles got in a superb tackle.
With four minutes left, any hope the Lionesses had of preventing another defeat went out of the window and it was another catastrophe at the back. Millie Bright’s back pass looked routine to Karen Bardsley, but the England keeper took a touch which allowed Michelle Prince to nip in from close range to score.
Despite their best efforts, England were not able to create another goal scoring opportunity and it was another frustrating night.
On reflection a draw would have been the fairest result, but in the end, yet again, it was the all too familiar story of defensive errors that did for the Lionesses.
ENGLAND: Telford, Daly, Bright, Williamson, Stokes, Parris, Nobbs, Stanway, Hemp, England, Kirby. Substitutes used: Greenwood (for Stokes 31), Toone (for Kirby 45), Bardsley (for Telford 45), Bronze (for Daly 64), Kelly (for England 65), White (for Parris 80).
CANADA: Labbe, Lawrence, Gilles, Zadorsky, Chapman, Scott, Quinn, Beckie, Fleming, Rose, Viens. Substitutes used: Prince (for Rose 59), Huitema (for Viens 59), Riviere (for Scott 67), Schmidt (for Quinn 82).
Scorers: Viens 3, Prince 86.
Referee: Cheryl Foster.
Germany 5-2 Australia (11/4/21)
By Ben Gilby
An impressive attacking display from a technically brilliant German side missing several regulars, ensured that they ran out comfortable winners against a makeshift Australia in Wiesbaden.
The Matildas, playing their first game for thirteen months and with Tony Gustavsson taking the reins, were only able to pick European based players which meant two first choice defenders were unable to make the journey and there was only one recognised left back in the team, Karly Roestbakken, who would go off injured with only fifteen minutes played. Ellie Carpenter, who has been in outstanding form for Olympique Lyonnais was also ruled out due to a string of coronavirus infections within her club.
Australia started aggressively and at high tempo for the opening ten minutes but things began to unravel.
With eleven minutes on the clock, Germany took the lead following a ball coming in from the right which Aivi Luik got a touch to but couldn’t prevent the ball from falling to Sjoeke Nusken who fired into the bottom corner.
Things got worse four minutes later with the injury to Roestbakken, who was replaced by debutant Beattie Goad.
Germany continued to press and Lina Magull found Paulina Krumbiegel who was denied by smart work Goad. Goad came to the Matildas rescue again when Magull combined with Lea Shuller. It remained 1-0 to the hosts at the break.
Any immediate hopes that Australia had of turning the deficit around were blown within two minutes of the re-start.
Magull found Sara Dabritz who played a lovely ball into the box which was met with the side foot of Kathrin Hendrich for 2-0.
Germany were now playing some excellent one touch football and Schuller played in Dabritz who took the ball on before laying off a pass to Tabea Wassmuth. Her shot was deflected out for a corner.
Still the pressure mounted and Nusken’s cross was met firmly by Magull. Lydia Williams in the Matildas goal managed to get a block in with the follow up effort blocked by Alanna Kennedy.
On the hour mark, Australia had a chance when Leonie Maier conceded a corner. Emily Gielnik’s flag kick came in and was met by the head of Kennedy. This effort was blocked with the rebound falling to Caitlin Foord but her effort was deflected away.
The Matildas paid the price for missing these opportunities as Germany broke up the other end to increase their lead.
Nusken got free and played in substitute Julie Brand. She escaped from Clare Polkinghorne and Laura Brock to slot into the far corner of the net with 62 minutes played.
Two minutes later it was 4-0 as a long ball from Brand found Laura Freigang who was never going to miss.
Tony Gustavsson rang the changes and brought Indiah-Paige Riley and Alex Huynh on for their debuts and there was also a welcome return to Matildas duty for Emma Checker.
Germany fashioned another two chances as Sophia Kleinherne, Brand and Freigang all hit efforts narrowly over the bar.
With ten minutes to go, Australia got on the front foot with Hayley Raso getting down the wing and earning a throw. Checker took and found Gielnik who tried to turn but the effort was cleared.
A minute later the Matildas and Gielnik had better luck. Polkinghorne’s long ball through found her club team mate Gielnik who used her strength to see off both Nusken and Kleinherne and fire home.
Germany were not finished though and from a free-kick, Linda Dallmann shook off Hyunh to fire home for 5-1.
In true Matildas “never say die” attitude, Australia hit back with a long ball played in by Raso which was met with the classic Emily Gielnik header for her second goal of the afternoon.
It was undoubtedly a disappointing result for Australia regardless of the predicament in which they found themselves – a limited team-selection, a new head coach and the first time any of these players had been able to meet up since March 2020.
One positive that the Matildas can take out of a tough afternoon is the fact that the players who made their debuts in the game, quite incredibly, were only the tenth new faces to play for the team since Tara Andrews won her first cap against China in 2015. There’s plenty more young superstars to follow these debutants into the Australia side in the future, but first this current crop must overcome their existing disadvantages to face another exceptionally tough game in the Netherlands on Tuesday evening.
Teams: GERMANY: 1) Merle Frohms, 3) Kathrin Hendrich, 4) Leonie Maier, 5) Marina Hegering, 7) Lea Schuller, 8) Paulina Krumbiegel, 13) Sara Dabritz, 15) Tabea Wassmuth, 20) Lina Magull, 24) Jana Feldkamp, 25) Sjoeke Nusken. Substitutes used: 16) Linda Dallmann, 19) Julie Brand, 14) Laura Freigang, 22) Fabienne Dongs, 10) Linda Dallmann, 2) Sophia Kleinherne.
Scorers: Nusken 11, Hendrich 48, Brand 62, Freigang 64, Dallmann 90.
AUSTRALIA: 1) Lydia Williams, 3) Aivi Luik, 4) Clare Polkinghorne, 7) Karly Roestbakken, 9) Caitlin Foord, 10) Emily van Egmond, 14) Alanna Kennedy, 15) Emily Gielnik, 16) Hayley Raso, 17) Mary Fowler, 20) Sam Kerr. Substitutes used: 13) Beattie Goad, 5) Laura Brock, 8) Amy Sayer, 12) Indiah-Paige Riley, 23) Emma Checker, 2) Alex Hyunh.
Scorers: Gielnik 82, 90+2.
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France 3-1 England (10/4/21)
By Ben Gilby
The Lionesses’ poor run of results continued after they fell to defeat to France in Caen.
Whilst England looked menacing coming forward throughout, they came unstuck at the back with an inability to defend high balls into the box, particularly in the first half and suffered a highly questionable penalty being given against Rachel Daly just after the hour.
France came into this game beset by Covid related challenges. All of their Olympique Lyonnais based players were unable to be selected for the squad due to an outbreak of the virus at the club and were forced into quarantine. Therefore, coach Corinne Diacre named a starting line-up which was considerably different to one which may have taken to the field had it not been for coronavirus.
The French started with intent and forced a corner within the first forty seconds with Marie-Antoinette Katoto heading wide.
It was very soon apparent that any set-piece or high ball into the England box would cause far more problems than should be expected for a team able to field the players that Hege Riise’s can.
Another French corner just after the twenty minute mark led to chaos in the Lionesses defence. Ellie Roebuck came to claim the corner as it came in, got nowhere near it and Kadidiatou Diani headed over.
England moved forward shortly afterwards when Fran Kirby pounced on a loose pass from Perle Morroni and fed Ellen White, whose effort was comfortably dealt with. But more lose touch from the home side enabled Nikita Parris to gather possession and unleash a fierce effort which led to a corner. The resulting flag kick saw the ball come back to Parris whose effort forced another corner.
There were more worrying signs in the England defence on the half hour mark. France earned a free kick out on the right when Leah Williamson fouled Diani. The ball in caused more panic stations but England escaped.
Sandy Baltimore’s influence was growing on the game and she offloaded a shot which Roebuck did well to tip over. The resulting corner led to the same chaotic defending and a poor attempt at a clearance allowed Everton’s Valerie Gauvin to have an effort.
After the Lionesses had a chance ruled out for offside, it was France who took the lead from a sweeping move. A long ball through from Diani came in, England couldn’t clear and Baltimore swept the ball home.
Nikita Parris continued to look the most threatening coming forward for England and, after Kirby had a shot blocked by the French defence, she got another fierce effort away which was blocked by Pauline Peyraud-Magnin’s feet.
In stoppage time at the end of the first half, each side gained another goal scoring opportunity. First, France when Millie Bright lost possession to Baltimore and despite Gauvin’s best efforts, she couldn’t quite get on the end of a dangerous ball in.
Parris had England’s last chance of the half when her header towards goal was wide of the mark.
The Lionesses started the second half on the front foot as Fran Kirby found Rachel Daly who fired just over.
England had now overcome their defensive woes of the first half and looked more comfortable at the back despite the technical skill shown by the France in attack, notably by Sandy Baltimore.
Jill Scott had the next scoring opportunity when she hit a shot over the bar after being laid off by the busy sub Chloe Kelly.
France hit back on the hour when Baltimore released Marie-Antoinette Katoto whose effort was pushed away for a corner by Ellie Roebuck.
Seconds later came a rather controversial penalty award for the hosts. Kadidiatou Diani’s strike was saved by Roebuck and amidst the follow up, Elisa De Almeida collided with Daly and went down with referee Sara Persson pointing to the spot. Up stepped substitute Vivianne Asseyi to slot home and France were 2-0 up.
England responded well with Lauren Hemp now in the action. She turned Marion Torrent and played a ball out to Kirby. Her pass through found Ellen White offside once more.
Hemp’s personal battle with Torrent continued and she won a foul from the French defender. Unfortunately Jordan Nobbs’ effort from a dangerous position was poor.
The third chapter of Hemp v Torrent ended in a penalty for England with the Norfolk born forward having her shirt pulled and receive a minor shove from the French defender. Fran Kirby slotted home the penalty.
It was the first goal France had conceded in 13½ hours of football and, indeed the first goal that Pauline Peyraud-Magnin had ever conceded for France in thirteen games.
Just two minutes later Hemp was involved again. This time she got down the left and played in a glorious ball to Keira Walsh, but her fierce effort rebounded back off of the post.
Sadly, that was as close as England would come. Asseyi and Diani were afforded far too much space down the right and from the latter’s low cross, Marie-Antoinette Katoto side footed home France’s third.
It was a curate’s egg of a performance from England. There was much to admire coming forward, but the same old defensive concerns that have lingered since the World Cup remain. This is a Lionesses team full of outstanding players who are capable of outstanding results. The confidence of a win against an established nation is vital. Canada in Stoke on Tuesday night provides that opportunity.
Teams: FRANCE: 21) Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, 4) Marion Torrent, Aissatou Tounkara, 22) Elisa De Almeida, 23) Perle Morroni, 11) Kadidiatou Diani, 8) Grace Geyoro, 14) Ella Palis, 17) Sandy Baltimore, 12) Marie-Antoinette Katoto, 13) Valerie Gauvin. Substitutes used: 2) Eve Perisset (for Torrent 85), 6) Ines Jaurena (for Palis 60), 15) Kenza Dali (for Diani 85), 18) Viviane Asseyi (for Gauvin 59).
Scorers: Baltimore 32, Asseyi pen 63, Katoto 82.
ENGLAND: 1) Ellie Roebuck, 2) Rachel Daly, 3) Alex Greenwood, 4) Keira Walsh, 5) Millie Bright, 6) Leah Williamson, 7) Nikita Parris, 8) Jill Scott, 9) Ellen White, 10) Fran Kirby, 11) Beth Mead. Substitutes used: 12) Niamh Charles (for Greenwood 45), 15) Lotte Wubben Moy (for Williamson 64), 17) Chloe Kelly (for Parris 45), 18) Jordan Nobbs (for Scott 73), 19) Beth England (for White 74), 23) Lauren Hemp (for Mead 64)
Scorer: Kirby pen 79.
The past week or so has seen a large number of international matches, with the conclusion of the Euro 2022 group qualifiers, the Lionesses‘ return to action after a year and several friendlies. Our team of writers round-up all the action (27/2/21).
Euro 2021 Qualifiers Round-Up by Ben Gilby:
Group A concluded on 23rd February when Estonia hosted Slovenia in Tallinn. The hosts, who had lost every game and only scored a single goal kept their visitors to just two goals at half-time with Dominika Conc and Mateja Zver on target. However, a four goal haul in nine second half minutes helped the visitors to complete a 9-0 romp. Zver added a second before further goals from Lara Prasnikar (2 including one penalty), Zara Vindisar Ana Milovic, Lara Klopcic ensured the Slovenes finished third in the group.
Nation in bold qualifies automatically for the final stages. Nation in italic goes into the play-offs.
Group B was completed on 24th February when Italy completely Israel 12-0 in Florence to ensure they qualify automatically as one of the best group runners-up. The Italians scored four times in the first nineteen minutes. They led 7-0 at half-time and in all, there were nine different goal scorers, including one own goal from Shani David. Valentina Giacinti (2), Barbara Bonasea (2), Daniela Sabatino (2), Cristiana Girelli, Cecilia Salvai, Martina Rosucci (penalty), Arianna Caruso and Manuela Giugliano completed the rout.
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||10||6||0||4||19||17||18||+ 2|
Nation in bold qualifies automatically for the final stages. Nation in italic goes into the play-offs.
It has been announced that the remaining games in Group C will now not be played. This will have no impact on the overall outcome of the group as everything had been decided. The final table is:
|Faroe Islands||7||0||0||7||1||42||0||– 41|
Nation in bold qualifies automatically for the final stages. Nation in italic goes into the play-offs.
In Group D, Spain began their run of two games to decide their destiny in the qualification campaign. Needing just three points from this period, they clinched their place in the finals in England in some style with a comprehensive 13-0 win in Azerbaijan on 18th February. Jennifer Hermoso hit five goals with Esther González Rodríguez adding four more. Mariona Caldentey, Eva Navarro and Nerea Eizagirre added the others. The remaining games in the group were played on 23rd February. Spain continued their excellent end to the qualifying campaign with a straightforward 3-0 win over Poland in Madrid. Esther González Rodríguez scored twice with Mapi Leon getting the other. Azerbaijan ended the group on a high by recording their only win in the qualifying campaign. They beat Moldova 1-0 in Baku thanks to Aysun Aliyeva’s strike – only her country’s second goal in the group.
|Czech Republic||8||5||2||1||24||9||16||+ 13|
The drama at the top of Group E took an incredible deciding twist on 19th February when Finland won the battle of the top two with Portugal in Helsinki thanks to a goal three minutes into injury time at the end of the match. Linda Sällström‘s rocket from outside of the box ensured that regardless of the outcome of the two nation’s final match, it will be the Finns who qualify for the finals in England. Scotland ended their miserable run of form with a 10-0 win in Cyprus. The Scots, led by interim head coach Stuart McLaren scored five goals in a twenty-four minute spell in the first half to seal the victory. Erin Cuthbert, Martha Thomas and Jane Ross each scored twice (one penalty for Ross) with Caroline Weir, Kirsty Hanson, Lizzie Arnot and Claire Emslie adding the others. However, Scotland ended their campaign with another defeat. Portugal claimed a 2-0 win in a game played in Larnaca on Cyprus. Stuart McLaren believed his team completely dominated the Portuguese side, but still slipped to a disappointing loss. Ana Capeta’s 27th minute strike was followed by a penalty by Fatima Pinto two minutes in to stoppage time at the end of the game sealed the result. Elsewhere in the same city, Cyprus completed their campaign winless and goalless after a 5-0 loss to group winners Finland. Emma Koivisto, Linda Sällström, Adelina Engman, Kaisa Collin and Juliette Kemppi were on target.
Group F has already been concluded and the final table is as follows:
Group G ended before Christmas, with the final table looking like this:
|North Macedonia||8||2||0||6||8||39||6||– 31|
Group H was concluded on 23rd February with Romania ensuring a third place finish after a 1-0 win in Croatia. Mihaela Cioacu’s strike after 53 minutes was the difference.
Group I was all wrapped up in December, with the final table as follows:
|Republic of Ireland||8||4||1||3||11||10||13||+ 1|
Already qualified automatically as group winners to join hosts England are Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium and Germany. Italy, Iceland and Austria are also making their travel plans for England after being guaranteed one of the three automatic spots for the best group runners-up.
In terms of the play-offs, Northern Ireland, Russia, Ukraine, Switzerland, Portugal and Czech Republic await the draw to discover who will face off to decide the final three places in the competition.
Women’s International Friendly News:
England played their first friendly against another nation in almost a year when they took on Northern Ireland at the St. George’s Park Training Centre on 23rd February. In Hege Riise’s first game as interim head coach, the Lionesses faced a Northern Irish side missing a number of regulars due to work commitments and injuries. The visitors were not able to muster a single shot on goal and if it wasn’t for Becky Flaherty in goal, the score line could have been a whole lot worse. Bure Valley YFC’s U12s player Daisy reports:
One team ranked sixth in the world; the other ranked 49th, England had big expectations to live up to in the friendly and certainly didn’t disappoint. They showed power and experience to the younger side, some of whom looked up to the England players as their heroes. And despite the extreme windy weather, they didn’t fail to let the world know that they were the same team who made it to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
This match was a very important one for the international hero Jill Scott, who, to celebrate her 150th cap for England (an amount which Jill is only the second ever female player to reach) was able to take the title from Steph Houghton for one day and sport the colourful captain’s armband in acknowledgement and support of LGBT.
England were up and running from the whistle, not giving Northern Ireland a chance to ease into the game and spending the first 10 minutes without letting their green opposition make it out of their own half. This paid off with a 17th minute goal from Ellen White – picked up from a defensive mistake and slid into the bottom right corner. 5 minutes later and White had her second, this one from a first-time cross from Lucy Bronze with an expertly executed header.
Despite these early difficulties, Northern Ireland fought back and had some decent chances with long balls from defence to forwards and some exciting breaks down the left wing. However, England’s organised defence and speed in getting back prevented Ellie Roebuck from having to make any saves in the first 25 minutes.
A tap-in from Lucy Bronze gave England a 3-0 advantage in the 28th minute and showed they were not planning on slowing down. Unfortunately, Nikita Parris could not participate in the match due to Covid restrictions, but the forward three seemed as strong as ever; working together in a triangle high in the northern Ireland half to press for mistakes.
The first minute back after half time and Ellen White came centimetres away from a hat trick, which two minutes later she succeeded in with a powerful shot in the 6-yard box to lift the ball into the roof of the net. But, it seemed as though Northern Ireland wouldn’t be fazed by anything! Doing much better than their first half performance; playing a high press on England and managing to use their breaks to end in some thrilling shots in the England goal direction.
An offside decision deprived Ellen White of her fourth goal, but her attacking triangle did not let up; seeming almost to move as one and always regaining formation after chances. The Lionesses continued to dominate possession all the way to the 66th minute, in which another brilliant assist from Bronze resulted in a tap-in goal for Rachel Daly.
A five goal lead, and England still wouldn’t let up, with more near-goal scenarios including a skim of the crossbar from Chloe Kelly. And when Northern Ireland conceded a penalty in the 73rd minute, it gave Ella Toone the chance to give England their sixth and final goal, which she did with a calm and composed shot into the bottom left corner.
6-0 down with 4 minutes of extra time and Northern Ireland respectively still threw everything they had into the game and did pressurise their opposition, but when the final whistle blew England were finally able to enjoy their 6-0 win. And though the whites were far the better team, Northern Ireland still had many positives to take from the game such as their respect, resilience and their will to keep going no matter what the score line.
Other Friendlies – by Ben Gilby
In Malta, Sweden defeated fellow European Championship qualifiers Austria 6-1. Linda Sembrant gave the Swedes the lead with a header from a set piece. Virginia Kirschberger levelled shortly after from point blank range before Sweden took over. A run down the right and shot across the goalkeeper saw Fridolina Rolfö give Sweden the lead. A backward header from Lina Hurtig from a corner made it 3-1. It was 4-1 when Rolfö played a clever inside pass to Filippa Angeldahl to shoot into the net. Rolfö made it five when she tapped home a low cross before Sofia Jakobsson completed the rout with a shot across the face of the keeper.
In the iconic Azteca Stadium, Mexico comfortably saw off Costa Rica 3-1. Rebeca Bernal and Katty Martinez put the hosts ahead before the break. Stephany Mayor increased the lead with Fabiola Villalobos pulling one back for Costa Rica with seven minutes left. Three days later, the two sides faced off again, with the outcome a 0-0 draw.
23rd February saw Sweden complete their two game spell on Malta with a 3-0 win over the hosts. Kosovare Aslani, Nathalie Björn and an own goal from Olivia Schough completed the win.
France met Switzerland twice in a matter of days in Metz. Jean-Pierre Thiesset reports: For their first encounter on 20th February, Corinne Diacre, the France coach, tried several new things. A 3-4-3 or 5-2-3 formation depending on whether the team was attacking or defending, with several young players in the team. I have to say that due to the number of players unavailable, the coach was left with reduced choices. Eugénie Le Sommer was out due to Covid. Griedge Mbock, Amandine Henry, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Valérie Gauvin due to injury. It was not a great game, but France won 2-0 by playing a serious game. Goals were score by Wendie Renard (12) following a free kick of Amel Majri and Perle Moroni (81), which just came in, on a cross from Eve Périsset, who came on as a substitute five minutes.
The second game, which took place on 23rd February, was back to a more classical 4-4-2 formation with several young players, but it was still not a very exciting game. France won 2-0 again with two goals from central defender Wendie Renard. This is not comforting for the team, which seems not to be able to score in the game without free kicks and penalty and with one of its defenders on target. Goals were scored by Wendie Renard (77) following a free kick from Eve Perisset and (90) thanks to a penalty.
Three Nations One Goal Cup:
Netherlands gained an extremely impressive 6-1 win away to the rapidly improving Belgium side on 18th February. The Dutch ran away with the game in the final half-hour – a period in which they scored four times. Vivianne Miedema and Jill Roord had given the visitors a 2-0 lead before Marie Minneart got one back for the Red Flames. Just two minutes later, the Dutch goal glut began as Stefanie van der Gragt, Lieke Martens, Danielle van der Donk and Dominique Janssen completed the rout.
On 21st February, Germany completed a 2-0 win over Belgium thanks to goals from Svenja Huth (2 mins) and Lea Schuller (55). The Germans were dominant with 22 shots on goal and 65% possession.
The outcome of the tournament was decided on 24th February when Netherlands took on Germany. The Dutch won the competition thanks to a very impressive 2-1 victory – the Germans’ first loss since the 2019 World Cup Quarter-Final. The Dutch were on the front foot from the start and Jill Roord sent a shot against the bar with Lieke Martens blazing the follow up way over. They had better luck just after the quarter of an hour mark when Vivianne Miedema played in Jackie Groenen to score. It was all square at the break when Svenja Huth’s cross was dispatched into the net by Laura Freigang. Just after the hour mark came the deciding move when Daniëlle van de Donk headed home.
SheBelieves Cup by Ben Gilby:
This year’s competition was solely held at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida and involved USA, Canada, Brazil and Argentina.
In the first round of matches, Brazil overcame Argentina 4-1. Marta’s penalty gave them the lead on the half-hour mark with Debinha doubling their advantage just after half-time. Adriana’s third sealed the result which made Mariana Larroquette’s strike for Argentina academic on the hour mark. A fourth was added for Brazil by Geyse with six minutes left. The USA’s clash with Canada was far closer and the Canadians gave the host nation a number of extremely worrying moments. The only goal came with eleven minutes left when the Canadians failed to clear a free kick and Manchester City’s Rose Lavelle fired home.
USA placed one hand on the trophy after a 2-0 win over Brazil on 21st February. Christen Press’ early goal after 11 minutes gave the World Champions a great start, but Brazil were never fully out of the equation until Megan Rapinoe added a second with two minutes to go. Canada left it even later to gain victory over Argentina. Despite the Canadians having seventeen shots on goal and making almost twice the number of passes, it wasn’t until two minutes into stoppage time when Sarah Stratigakis broke Argentine hearts with the winning goal.
Brazil ended the competition on a massive high with a superb 2-0 win over Canada – a result that ensured they clinched second place in the final table. With a quarter of an hour played, Debinha was played through and found Adriana. Her effort beat Stephanie Labbé in the Canada goal but cannoned back off the post to Debinha who followed up to score. Six minutes before the break, the South Americans doubled their lead after Gabby Carle failed to clear twice and Julia stole the ball from the Canadian and smashed the second in. Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming was then nutmegged by Tamires who linked with Debinha and then Adriana who was only denied by a great save by Labbé. Canada had the best of the second half but simply could not score. USA wrapped up their tournament victory by sweeping aside Argentina 6-0. Megan Rapinoe scored twice in just ten minutes with Carli Lloyd and Kristie Mewis making it 4-0 at the break. It took until the final six minutes for the Americans to add to their tally as Alex Morgan and Kristen Press completed the rout.
|United States of America||3||3||0||0||9||0||9||+ 9|
Jean-Pierre Thiesset brings us all the news from the 2020 International Federation of Football History and Statistucs (IFFHS) Awards for the women’s game. (9/12/20)
The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) – recently published the winners of their 2020 Awards. Olympique Lyonnais were the big winners, with four of their squad names as one of the World’s Best players and a total of seven players in the Women’s World Team of the year for 2020.
World’s Best Goalkeeper: SARAH BOUHADDI (FRANCE/OLYMPIQUE LYON)
World’s Best Playmaker: DZSENIFER MAROZSAN (GERMANY/OLYMPIQUE LYON)
World’s Best Club: OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (FRANCE)
World’s Best League: FA WOMEN’S SUPER LEAGUE (ENGLAND)
World’s Best Club Coach: JEAN LUC VASSEUR (OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS)
World’s Best National Coach: SARINA WIEGMAN (NETHERLANDS)
World’s Best Referee: STEPHANIE FRAPPART (FRANCE)
THE WOMEN’S WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR 2020
Goalkeeper: SARAH BOUHADDI (FRANCE/OLYMPIQUE LYON)
Defenders: LUCY BRONZE (ENGLAND/OLYMPIQUE LYON/MAN CITY), WENDIE RENARD (FRANCE/OLYMPIQUE LYON), LENA GOESSLING (GERMANY/VFL WOLFSBURG), SAKINA KARCHAOUI (FRANCE/MONTPELLIER/OLYMPIQUE LYON)
Midfielders: SAKI KUMAGAI (JAPAN/OLYMPIQUE LYON), ALEXANDRA POPP (GERMANY/VFL WOLFSBURG), DZSENIFER MAROZSAN (GERMANY/OLYMPIQUE LYON)
Forwards: DELPHINE CASCARINO (FRANCE/OLYMPIQUE LYON), VIVIANNE MIEDEMA (NETHERLANDS/ARSENAL LONDON), PERNILLE HARDER (DENMARK/VFL WOLFSBURG/CHELSEA FC)
Impetus founder Ben Gilby was invited to speak exclusively to The One Goal Organisation’s Daniela Porcelli about their fantastic campaign with various star international women footballers to raise money to help organisations to use sport to aid communities.
The One Goal was founded in 2018 by Swedish international goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl and Daniela Porcelli, a renowned photographer from Switzerland. As Daniela outlined to me, “The One Goal’s vision is to become a unique worldwide charitable organization that uses an authentic process within the women’s game to achieve it. Our mission at The One Goal is to work locally and internationally to raise funds from the women’s game which we will put back by donating to help organizations that are using sports as a method to help people and their communities.”
“Another important thing is that we want to raise awareness about women’s football and women who play and have played football. We are raising money thanks to famous women footballers donating signed match worn shirts. Every single item that has been donated tells a story that deserves to be told. We want to tell and share those stories.”
The One Goal has its roots in an idea that Daniela developed in 2017: “I thought about establishing a non-profit-organization, but in a smaller way. My idea was to receive signed football items from women’s football players to auction to fans. The money raised would be invested into girls’ projects. A friend of mine told me to ask Hedvig Lindahl for a shirt, and he connected me with her. After the first email we talked about this idea and a few months later The One Goal was officially founded.”
The campaign has raised incredible amounts of money so far: “Since the beginning until before the #TOGetherAgainstCorona campaign this summer, we raised around £10,000 with football items sales and auctions. Then the campaign happened and in just a few weeks we made nearly £25,000. Of course, I have to say, that the first year of The One Goal me and Hedvig were alone in volunteering our free-time to it. Only later on and mostly during the campaign time, we had many volunteers joining to support our goals. This makes us more successful. We are certain about the fact that together, we can make a difference and the more, the merrier!”
Daniela continues: “The most essential thing for Hedvig and me are that the projects we support are transparent and smaller. We are in constant dialog with the owners of those organizations we support. That gives us good and up to date knowledge about the projects and how they use the funds to help girls so we are sure of the fact that our raised money is used as promised.”
The campaign has reached such a momentum that now some really big name players are helping out by donating their shirts as Porcelli explains: “We are grateful to every player who donates a shirt or other items towards our charitable organization and projects we support. We want to give every player this platform and hope someday we can say that everyone was happy to join us. During the present campaign #ShirtsForGirls the most well-known players who have donated their shirts are Sam Kerr, Caroline Seger and Sara Däbritz among others.
Earlier, Daniela mentioned the increase of volunteers helping the campaign this time round – and their jobs are many and varied: “We are thankful for every volunteer who joined us and is happy to spend some of their free-time to help in a charitable way. To name a few roles: Social Media Creators, Graphic designers, Accountant, Online Store Manager and many more. Everyone can support using their skills and experiences. But we also hope together we can teach each other new things, which brings you further. We are always open to welcome more people into our organization and we believe that everyone can contribute in one way or another.”
This year’s #ShirtsForGirls campaign has run for a month and donations can be made until 23:59 GMT on Tuesday 1st December. The following day will see the winners of each shirt drawn. There’s over twenty incredible signed match worn shirts from some of the biggest names in women’s football. To support the campaign and try to win one of the shirts, go to www.theonegoal.org, click on the shirt’s image and “get entries”. Depending on how much you choose to donate, you receive a number of entry tickets to win the jersey the clicked on. The more entry tickets purchased, the bigger the chance to win. By purchasing entry tickets, the money goes straight into our donation pool and supports the project: the girl’s academy of El Cambio Academy in Uganda.
To summarise the organisation and its aims, Daniela said: “We have a unique approach in the women’s game. We have thankfully women’s players donating their items to support girls projects. It is a circle. The money gets raised through women’s football and goes back into women’s football. That is what I love about our approach. With only £5 we can make a difference. Each of us.”
There’s still time for YOU to make a difference, visit www.theonegoal.org to donate now and try and win one of their incredible signed match worn shirts!
With the qualification games reaching their climax, a great deal was decided over the past week or so. There were some shock eliminations and surprise play-off contenders. Ben Gilby rounds up all the action with Jean-Pierre Thiesset casting his expert eye over France’s progress. 4/12/20
Whilst the top two places in Group A have been decided with Netherlands guaranteed top spot and Russia runners-up, the latter knew that two big wins in their final games could potentially see them qualify automatically as one of the best second placed sides. That bid started on 27th November with a comfortable 3-0 win over Kosovo in a game moved to the neutral venue of Manavgat in Turkey due to security concerns. All three Russian goals emerged in the opening twelve minutes with Marina Fedorova scoring twice and Alsu Abdullina grabbing the other. The battle of the bottom two nations, both winless all competition long took place in Tallinn on the same date and it was Turkey who emerged with the honours after a 4-0 thrashing of Estonia. Ece Turkoglu, Ilayda Civelek, Gulbin Hiz and Yagmur Uraz were on target as the Turks doubled their goal tally for the whole qualification campaign in one night.
On 1st December, Netherlands concluded their qualification tournament with a tenth win from ten games with a 6-0 demolition job of Kosovo. A hat-trick by Katja Snoeijs, two from Jill Roord and one from Lieke Mertens ensured they ended with a perfect record. Russia finish second, but have not done enough to ensure they finish as one of the best three automatic qualification spots after they only won 2-1 in Turkey. Anna Belomyttseva and Marina Fedorova were on target with Derya Arhan scoring for the Turks. Elsewhere, Slovenia ensured they will finish third regardless of their final game in February after a 2-0 win over Estonia who are guaranteed to finish bottom before their last game in the New Year. Barbara Kralj and a Korina Kork own goal separated the sides.
Group B action returned on 26th November as Malta recorded their second win of the qualifiers with a 4-0 success over bottom side Georgia. A brace apiece from Shona Zammit and Haley Bugeja earned the islanders the points. The majority of the nations played their final qualifiers on 1st December. Denmark concluded their successful campaign with a 0-0 draw against Italy in Viborg. The Italians are likely to gain one of the automatic qualification spots for the three best second placed sides if they can beat an Israeli side in February who have only won two of their nine qualifiers so far. Bosnia Herzegovina finished third after a routine 3-0 win away to Georgia who ended their qualification bid with ten losses from ten games. A brace from Sofija Krajsumovic and one from Marija Damjanovic earned them the three points. Malta concluded their campaign with a second straight win, this time 2-0 in Israel. Brenda Borg and Haley Bugeja were on the mark.
In Group C, on 27th November, Northern Ireland took another huge step towards the phenomenal achievement of making the play-offs as group runners-up. Their 3-2 win over Belarus in a see-saw encounter at Crusaders FC’s ground in Belfast means they would be confirmed as group runners-up with a win over Faroe Islands four days later. Northern Ireland took the lead after just two minutes thanks to Kirsty McGuinness’ strike. However, it was cancelled out by Anastasia Shcherbachenia’s equaliser fourteen minutes later. Just past the hour mark, Rachel Furness crashed home a penalty to restore the home side’s lead. Yet, six minutes, up popped Shcherbachenia to level again for Belarus. To the delight of the hosts, the win was sealed three minutes later when Natalia Voskobovich put into her own net. Norway’s game with the Faroe Islands was cancelled due to coronavirus and is unlikely to be rescheduled as the Norwegians are already confirmed as group winners and the Faroese can only finish bottom of the group.
On 1st December, Northern Ireland continued their fairy tale qualification campaign with an outstanding performance to brush aside Faroe Islands 5-1 at Crusaders FC. The result confirmed their place in the play-offs – a sensational achievement by Kenny Shiels’ side. There was a dramatic opening when the visitors, fielding a side full of teenagers, took a shock lead – scoring their only goal in the whole qualification period – thanks to Jensa Torolvsdottir sliding home. But, just sixty seconds later, Liverpool’s Rachel Furness bundled one over the line from a scramble. Northern Ireland dominated completely from now on and just before the half-hour mark took the lead from a sensational strike outside the box by Kirsty McGuinness. It stayed that way at the break, but another stunner of a hit, this time from Birmingham City’s Chloe McCarron extended the advantage. Caitlin McGuinness, who by coming on as a substitute to join her sister Kirsty on the pitch ensured her family became the first to represent Northern Ireland Women in the same team at the same time, then joined her sibling on the scoresheet too. The rout was completed at the end with an own goal from Jacoba Langgaard. There were joyous scenes at the final whistle in Belfast and Northern Ireland will hope that some fans will be allowed into their home leg of the play-offs in the New Year. That result meant that Wales’ 3-0 win over Belarus in Newport was purely academic. Natasha Harding, Rachel Rowe and Jess Fishlock all scored in a frustrating end to Wales’ qualification campaign. Norway are due to play Belarus in February, but as the game has no bearing on the final group table, it remains to be confirmed.
In Group D, Spain moved to within one victory of a place in the finals with a comprehensive 10-0 thumping of Moldova on 27th November. Jennifer Hermoso grabbed a hat-trick with Aitana Bonmati adding two more. Maria Caldentey, Alexia Putellas, Patricia Guijarro, Eva Navarro and an own goal from Dumitrita Prisacari completed the rout in Madrid. In the sole game played on 1st December, Moldova were on the end of another heavy loss, with Czech Republic hitting seven against them this time round. Andrea Staskova (two) and one each from Klara Cahynova, Jana Petrikova, Katerina Svitova, Kamila Dubcova and Miroslava Mrazova sealed the deal. There are still three games to be played in this group in the New Year with Spain, Poland and Czech Republic all still capable of finishing top of the group.
Scotland’s hopes of qualification from Group E took another downward turn on 27th November after they lost their second successive game – 1-0 to Portugal at Belenenses’ Stadium in Lisbon. Shelley Kerr’s side dominated the first half in terms of possession and territory but could not create a chance to unlock the door. Ana Borges’ strike with 21 minutes to go made the Scots pay. The visitors now slip to third in the table, four points adrift of the play-off places. Scotland will now need to win all of their remaining three matches and hope that the result of the game between the Portuguese and Finns who are above them produces a favourable outcome. In the group’s other game that night, Albania gained their second win of the campaign – both over rock bottom Cyprus and did so with a 4-0 score line. The Albanians took the lead on 18 minutes through Suada Jushari before three further goals in the final ten minutes. A Megi Doci penalty plus goals from Lucie Gjini and Kristina Maksuti completed the win.
Scotland’s shock slump continued on 1st December with a disastrous 1-0 loss to Finland at Hibernian FC – their third qualification loss in a row which means that they can no longer even make the play-offs. The hosts had a huge number of the chances throughout the game, but Jennifer Beattie, Kim Little, Martha Thomas, Lisa Evans and Caroline Weir all missed them. The sting in the tail came in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time when Amanda Rantanen scored for the Finns to put them top of the group. It means that the Scots, who qualified for Euro 2017 and the World Cup in 2019 and were top seeds in the group are now out with two games left to play. Portugal laboured to a 1-0 win over strugglers Albania. Ana Capeta scored the only goal just before the hour mark.
In Group F, Iceland confirmed their place in the finals as one of the best second placed sides with two wins in a row. First they came from 1-0 down in Senec, Slovakia on 26th November to win 3-1. The Slovak’s took the lead on twenty-five minutes from Maria Mikolajova but back came the Icelanders thanks to Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir’s two penalties and a Berglind Bjorg strike. This was followed up with a 1-0 win in Hungary thanks to two penalties (one penalty) from Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir and a Berglina Bjorg. Sweden completed their qualification campaign unbeaten after a 6-0 win in Slovakia. Ingrid Angeldal (2), Linda Sembrant, Fridolina Rolfo, Jonna Andersson and Rebecka Blomqvist were on target.
France overcame their off-field difficulties with a 3-0 win over Austria in Guingamp on 27th November to finally qualify from Group G. Goals from Wendie Renard and two from Marie-Antoinette Katoto completed a win which caused thousands of fans to heave a big sigh of relief. Jean-Pierre Thiesset’s report on the game can be seen here: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2020/11/29/france-qualify-for-euro-2022-at-last/
Elsewhere, on the same night, North Macedonia recorded their second win of the qualification stages, both of which have come over Kazakhstan. Two goals from Gentjana Rochi and one from Elma Shemsovikj earned the 3-0 win.
On 1st December, Austria gained the win they needed to stay in the running for one of the three automatic qualification spots for the group runners-up with the best record. Nicole Billa’s goal with ten minutes left against Serbia sealed the result. France’s final game with Kazakhstan ended with a 12-0 thrashing. Jean-Pierre Thiesset reports: There was the opportunity to see a few young players that had not played a lot or at all since the beginning of the competition. Corinne Diacre decided to let several main players rest to give more chances to Lyon and Paris SG teams in their Women’s UEFA Champions League games: Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Delphine Cascarino and Sakina Karchaoui did not play at all and Amel Majri, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto played only the first half. Whilst Kazakhstan is the 77th team in the world, a 12-0 win with a lot of good passes and play was incredibly pleasing to watch. The young players showed that they were able to do the job and it was the first goal for France team for Eve Périsset (25 years old, Paris SG), Estelle Cascarino (23 years old, Bordeaux), Emelyne Laurent (22 years old, Olympique Lyonnais, on loan at Atletico Madrid), Perle Moroni (23 years old, Paris SG), Sandy Baltimore (20 years old, Paris SG) and Clara Matéo (23 years old, Paris FC). Kenza Dali and Elisa De Almeida were also on target as well as a double from Kadidiatou Diani (25 years old, Paris SG) and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (22 years old, Paris SG). The latter being the highest scorer of the qualification competition for the French with eight goals in front of Eugénie Le Sommer (seven goals) who did not play in the last two games as she was injured.
On 27th November, in Group H, Croatia won the battle of the bottom two with a 1-0 success over Lithuania thanks to a late strike from Kristina Sundov in Pula. The Croats have won both games between the two nations for their only wins in the campaign so far. The battle of the top two on 1st December saw Belgium romp to a stunning 4-0 win over Switzerland in Leuven to confirm that they will qualify automatically as group winners. Tine de Caigny (2), Tessa Wullaert and Janice Cayman were on the mark. The result now means that Switzerland are going to find it incredibly difficult to qualify automatically as one of the three best second placed sides and will most likely drop into the play-offs. Croatia’s game with Lithuania was cancelled.
Finally to Group I where Germany won their seventh successive qualifier on 27th November with a 6-0 thumping of Greece in Ingolstadt. Laura Freigang grabbed a hat-trick and Marina Hegering, Linda Dallmann and Paulina Krumbiegel completed the rout. Then on 1st December, any hope that Republic of Ireland had of making the play-offs as group runners-up faded after Germany left Dublin with a 3-1 win to complete their qualification campaign with a 100% win record. Tabea Wassmuth grabbed two and a Lina Magull penalty did the job. Katie McCabe scored for Ireland. That result meant that Ukraine’s 2-1 win at home to Montenegro meant that they would take the play-off spot as runners-up. Olha Basanska and Nadiia Kunina were on the mark. Jasna Dokovic scored for Montenegro.
With only a handful of qualification games left for February, matters are a long way towards being decided.
Already qualified automatically as group winners to join hosts England are Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium and Germany. Iceland are also making their travel plans for England after being guaranteed one of the three automatic spots for the best group runners-up. Group D and E are still to be decided.
In terms of the play-offs, Northern Ireland, Russia and Ukraine’s participation is confirmed with three more spots to be filled as a result of the last few games in the qualification campaign in February.
It’s been a busy six days and with the first nations having just sealed their qualification for the finals in England, Ben Gilby rounds up all of the action. 28/10/20
Netherlands clinched their spot in the European Championships after a comprehensive 7-0 win over Estonia in Groningen on 23rd October. Two goals each from Danielle van der Donk and Jackie Groenen set the Dutch on the way with Sheride Spitse adding a penalty along with further strikes from Aniek Nouwen and Katja Snoeijs. Estonia are still looking for their first win in the qualifying stage. Russia won an important match with Slovenia as the two sides battling it off for second spot met head on in Moscow. Nelli Korovkina grabbed the only goal with fifteen minutes left. Kosovo’s remote hopes of a play-off spot seem to have ended after they could only draw 0-0 with winless Turkey. Four days later and Russia confirmed they will finish as runners-up with two games to go after defeating Turkey 4-2 in Moscow. Two goals from Margarita Chernomyrdina plus further strikes from Nelli Korovkina and Natalya Mashina were the difference. Late efforts from Derya Arhan and Didem Karagenc gave the result a better appearance from a Turkish perspective. Netherlands continued their imperious qualification form with a comfortable 6-0 win in Kosovo. A Katja Snoeijs hat-trick and one apiece from Danielle van der Donk, Lieke Martens and Vivienne Miedema took the Dutch goal tally to forty-two in their nine qualifiers so far. The match between Estonia and Slovenia was postponed with no confirmation as yet when it will be staged.
Group B took a decisive turn over the past five days. The action began with Denmark extending their goal difference over Italy to twenty-three after a 4-0 thrashing of Israel in Viborg on 21st October. Two outstanding strikes from Pernille Harder, plus an own goal from Irena Kuznetsov and an effort from Sofie Junge Pedersen earned another win. The first of two big showdowns between Denmark and Italy took place in Empoli on 27th October and the Danes 3-1 win was enough to ensure that they will top the group. They were dominant from the early stages and were 2-0 up within 17 minutes thanks to Everton’s Nicoline Sorensen and PSG’s Nadia Nadim. A second goal from Nadim just after half-time completed Denmark’s excellent victory. Valentina Giacinti’s consolation was not enough for Italy. The two sides will meet again in Viborg in the final round of qualification matches in December. Elsewhere in the group, Israel completed the double over Georgia with a 2-1 win in Tbilisi. Koral Hazan and Rahel Shtainshnaider were on the scoresheet. Teona Bakradze got a goal back for the hosts with twenty minutes to go.
On 22nd October, Wales kept alive their hopes of automatic qualification from Group C with a 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands in Newport. A brace from Natasha Harding, plus goals from Helen Ward and Lily Woodham sealed the win. On the same night, leaders Norway’s home game with Belarus was called off and has been tentatively re-arranged for February. Five days later, the group was decided when Norway left Cardiff with a 1-0 win over Wales which confirmed their qualification for the finals with two games to spare thanks to Frida Maanum’s goal just after the hour mark. The defeat was the first of two blows to hit the Welsh qualification hopes. The second was Northern Ireland’s sensational 1-0 win in Belarus despite playing for over an hour with only ten players after keeper Jacqueline Burns was sent off for fouling Anastaysia Shcherbachenia. Kenny Shiels’ charges rallied heroically and gained the win after Rachel Furness headed home Demi Vance’s corner just before half-time. Northern Ireland now know that if they can take maximum points from their final two matches – both at home and both potentially winnable – against Belarus and Faroe Islands they have an opportunity to claim the play-off spot ahead of Wales.
Spain gained an important 4-0 victory over fellow qualification contenders Czech Republic on 23rd October. Esther Gonzalez, Patricia Guijarro, Aitana Bonmati and Alexia Putellas were on the mark in Seville. Poland moved into second spot after a 3-0 win over Azerbaijan in Warsaw. Malgorzata Mesjasz and two goals from Weronika Zawistowska ensured the Poles got back in the saddle after a defeat to the Czechs last time out. With the Spanish not in action on 27th October, Poland took advantage to go back to the top of the group following a 3-0 in Moldova thanks to goals from Paulina Dudek, Adriana Achcinska (penalty) and Dominika Kopinska. Czech Republic cemented third spot with a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Azerbaijan. Clara Cahynova, Tereza Krejcirikova and Tereza Szewieczkova were on the mark. The Poles are now a point ahead of Spain, but have played two games more.
Scotland moved to within a point of leaders Finland in Group E with a game in hand after a 3-0 win over Albania in Edinburgh on 23rd October. Whilst Shelley Kerr’s side dominated the game, they had to wait until the final fourteen minutes to add to Rachel Corsie’s goal. It was Caroline Weir’s two late strikes (one from the spot) that cemented the result. Portugal got themselves back into the qualification hunt with a 3-0 win in Cyprus. Claudia Neto, Diana Silva and Ana Capeta scored the goals. Four days later, Scotland’s hopes took a slight dent following a 1-0 defeat in Helsinki to Finland who are now three points clear at the top of the table. It was a frustrating night for the Scots who created the best chances throughout. Martha Thomas fired over when clean through and Erin Cuthbert drove a fierce effort narrowly wide in the opening period. Second half chances fell to Leanne Crichton who hit a glorious volley just wide and to Jane Ross who saw a header come back off the bar. The Finns punished their visitors for those misses when, from a corner, Lizzie Arnot headed an effort off the line, but only as far as Eveliina Summanen who smashed it home. The Scots now fall to third in the group with four games to play following Portugal’s 1-0 win over Cyprus thanks to an own goal from Chara Charakambous.
In Group F, Sweden and Iceland remain comprehensively clear of the rest. The Swedes demolished Latvia 7-0 in Gothenburg on 22nd October. Two goals from Pauline Hammarlund plus single strikes from Lina Hurtig, Anna Anvegard, Olivia Schough, Magda Eriksson and Filippa Curmark sealed the deal. A day later, Slovakia moved into third place with a 2-1 win in Hungary. Patricia Hmirova and Maria Mikolajova put the Slovaks ahead before a late strike from Sara Pusztai provided the Hungarians with some pride. The top two faced off in Gothenburg on 27th October, and Sweden’s 2-0 win over Iceland confirmed they will win the group. Eva Jakobsson and Olivia Schough were on target. Elsewhere, Slovakia gained their second win over the past week by dispatching Latvia 2-0 thanks to two penalties in twenty-six first half minutes from Patricia Hmirova.
Group G has taken a fascinating turn over the past five days. France began with a comprehensive 11-0 win at home to North Macedonia in Orleans on 23rd October to set the home side up for their vital clash with Austria. Four goals from Eugenie Le Sommer, two from Grace Geyoro, plus strikes from Valerie Gauvin, Elisa de Almeida, Kadidiatou Diani, Viviane Asseyi and Delphine Cascarino summed up France’s total dominance. Their top of the table clash in Austria on 27th October ended goalless. The two countries are separated by just goal difference at the top. It makes the decisive return clash next month mouth-watering.
Lithuania remain winless in Group H after two further losses over the past few days. On 23rd October, Romania came away from Suduva Stadium with a 4-0 win following two goals by Stefania Vatufu and one each from Laura Rus and Ana Maria Vladulescu. 27th October saw the top two sides, Switzerland and Belgium earn routine wins respectively. The Swiss emerged 2-0 winners in Romania with Coumba Sow and Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic on target. The Belgians demolished Lithuania in Sudova to the tune of 9-0. Hat-tricks by Tessa Wullaert and Tine De Caigny and one from Marie Minnaert plus own goals from Milde Luizinaite and Gabija Gedgaudaite completed the rout. Belgium host Switzerland in the final round of qualification matches in December in a huge game which will decide who wins the group. The Swiss, top by a single point need just a draw to guarantee winning the group.
Finally to Group I where Ukraine won their third qualifier in a row which gives them a realistic chance of claiming the runners-up spot in the group. Their 1-0 win over a Republic of Ireland side who appeared to be virtually guaranteed of second place at one point was a superb achievement. An own goal from Aine Marie O’Gorman was the difference. Greece picked up only their second win of the qualification period after a 1-0 success over Montenegro in Athens. Eleni Markou’s goal earned the win. Ukraine increased the pressure on the Irish on 27th October with a 4-0 win in Greece thanks to two goals from Darya Kravets with Natia Pantsulaia and Nadiia Kunina adding one each. This means Ireland know they need to beat heavyweights Germany in their final game in order to prevent Ukraine, who will expect to comfortably defeat winless Montenegro on the same night, from taking the runners-up spot.
With the qualification tournament now reaching its climax, it is worth looking closely at the race for runners-up places in each of the groups. The second placed countries with the three best records will qualify directly for the final tournament in England. At the moment, those places would go to Belgium, Austria and Italy. This would send Spain, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Russia, Wales and Portugal into the play-offs to see who would earn the remaining three places in the finals.
Over the last week or so, the UEFA Euro 2021 (or 2022 as it should now read!) qualifiers resumed. Impetus editor Ben Gilby rounds up all the action in each of the groups. 24/9/20
Netherlands remain in charge at the top of Group A, standing nine points clear of second placed Slovenia after the latest round of matches over the past ten days.
The Dutch returned from Moscow on 18th September from a potentially tricky game against Russia with a 1-0 win thanks to Jill Roord – in red hot scoring form at present – who struck after a quarter of an hour. Elsewhere, Slovenia kept up their pursuit of a play-off spot with a 3-1 win at home to Turkey, who remain bottom. Gulbin Hiz gave the Turks a shock early lead, but Mateja Zver’s 28th minute penalty levelled the scores before goals from Lara Prasnikar and Spela Kolbl turned things around. Also still winless in the group are Estonia after they succumbed to a 2-0 loss in Kosovo with Kaltrina Biqkaj scoring both goals. On 22nd September, Russia jumped into second spot on goal difference from Slovenia with a 3-0 win over Estonia in a match played in Latvia. Darya Yakovleva, Natalya Mashina and Nelli Vitalyevna Korovkina weighed in with the goals. The Russians have a game in hand on third placed Slovenia in the race for the play-off spot.
Group B is now a two-way battle for the automatic qualification and the play-off spots. Leaders Italy’s game against Israel on 17th September was postponed with no new date available as yet. On the same night, second placed Denmark gained a hugely important 4-0 win in Zenica against third placed Bosnia & Herzegovina. Nadia Nadim, Sanne Troelsgaard Nielsen, Rikke Laentver Sevecke and Nanna Christiansen were on the mark. Five days later Italy effectively killed off Bosniz Herzegovina’s hopes of second place with a straightforward 5-0 win in Zenica. Cristiana Girelli’s hat-trick and goals from Aurora Galli and Elena Linari sealed the important win. Denmark went top on goal difference with a comprehensive 8-0 win in Malta. Two goals from Nadia Nadim and Sanne Troelsgaard set the Danes on the way with Stine Larsen, Pernille Harder, Sofie Junge Pedersen and Signe Kalesoe Bruun grabbing one apiece. Who wins the group and who goes into the play-offs will be decided by the home and away battles between the Danes and Italians in the coming months.
On 18th September, Northern Ireland kept alive their hopes of the play-off spot in Group C with a 6-0 win in the Faroe Islands. Two goals from Simone Magill and Lauren Wade plus one apiece from Rachel Furness and Kirsty McGuinness sealed the win. The big showdown in the group on 22nd September in Oslo between the top two saw Norway just about hold off a determined Welsh outfit to record a 1-0 win. Wales competed well in the early stages before Norway took the lead after an unfortunate goalkeeping error from Laura O’Sullivan. From a corner, Caroline Graham Hansen fed Guru Reiten on the edge of the box. The Chelsea star curled an effort from the edge of the box which O’Sullivan attempted to punch, but missed the ball and it flew over the top of her into the net. Wales created chances to gain a famous point, but the home side gained the three points. Belarus joined Northern Ireland in the hunt to overtake Wales in second after a 2-0 win in the Faroe Islands. Anastasiya Shlapakova and Karina Olkhovik were on the scoresheet. Norway are now virtually guaranteed to gain the automatic qualification spot thanks to their seven point cushion. However the race for the play-off berth is hotting up with second placed Wales just two points ahead of Northern Ireland and three ahead of fourth placed Belarus.
The arm-wrestle at the top of Group D continues with only two points separating first from third. Czech Republic held then group leaders Poland 0-0 in Chomutov on 18th September. Spain took advantage of the result to leap frog into top spot by two points after a 9–0 win demolition of Moldova in Chisinau the following night. Mariona Caldentey grabbed a hat-trick, Lucia Garcia Cordoba hit two, with Jennifer Hermoso, Alba Maria Redondo, Patricia Guijarro and an own goal from Anastasia Sivolobova completing the rout. The Poles and the Czechs played their return match on 22nd September and it was the Czech Republic who gained a vital victory – 2-0 in Bielsko Biala. Andrea Staskova and Kamila Dubcova grabbed the goals.
There was no action in Group E. Qualifiers in this group resume on 22nd October.
In Group F, Sweden and Iceland remain comprehensively clear of the rest. On 17th September, the Swedes remained on top on goal difference after an 8-0 thrashing of Hungary in Gothenburg. Anna Anvegard’s hat-trick, two from Lina Hurtig plus one each from Chelsea’s Magda Eriksson, Amanda Ilestedt and Linda Sembrant earned the win. Iceland went one better by crushing Latvia 9-0 in Reyjkavik. The goals came courtesy of a Dagny Brynjarsdottir hat-trick, Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir (2) and Karlina Miksone (OG), Alexandre Johansdottir and Karolina Lea Vilhjalmsdottir completed the rout. Five days later the top two went head to head in Reykjavik. The Swedes took a 34th minute lead through Anna Elin Anvegard, but Elin Mette Jensen’s leveller for the Icelanders kept their dreams of top spot alive. Hungary gained their second win of the qualification period thanks to a 5-0 win over rock bottom Latvia. Dora Zeller and Lilla Turanyi got two apiece with Sara Tusztai scoring one.
France continued to haul in Austria at the top of Group G after a 2-0 win in Serbia on 18th September. Andela Frajtovic’s own goal and a strike from Amel Majri earned the three points. On 22nd September, they continued to up the pressure with a 7-0 thrashing of North Macedonia in Skopje. Eugenie Le Sommer and Elisa de Almeida both grabbed braces with Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Marion Torrent and Viviane Asseyi completing the rout. Austria kept their noses ahead in top spot with a 5-0 win in Kazakhstan. Barbara Dunst hit two goals with Verena Aschauer, Sarah Puntingam and Nicole Billa (penalty) also on target. The top two, France and Austria go head to head in the next set of group games in a month’s time.
Group H has taken some dramatic twists and turns over the past ten days. On 18th September after Switzerland were held 1-1 in Zapresic against Croatia which looked to put a major dent in their hopes of finishing top. Ivana Rudelic gave the Croats, who have only won one qualifier so far, an early lead. Ramona Bachmann rescued the Swiss from embarrassment with a 74th minute leveller, but hopes of automatic qualification now look difficult. This is due to leaders Belgium slamming six goals past Romania to move two points clear at the top of the table. Tessa Wullaert’s hat-trick, plus goals from Janice Cayman, Elena Dhont and Justine Vanhaevermaet won them the game. Laura Roxana Rus got a consolation strike for the Romanians. Four days later Switzerland renewed their dreams of winning the group with a massively important 2-1 win over Belgium in Thun. Malin Gut and Alisha Lehmann put the home side 2-0 up. Tessa Wullaert got one goal back for the Belgians. The Swiss are now top by a point. The two team face each other again in November on the final matchday of the group – and what a mouth-watering prospect that will be. Romania won only their second game of the group after dispatching Croatia 4-1. Ivana Rudelic put the Croats ahead but they were swamped by goals from Iva Landeka, Maria Batea, Andrea Herczeg and Laura Roxana Rus.
Finally to Group I where Ukraine won their first qualifier at the fourth attempt with a 3-1 win away to rock bottom Montenegro on 18th September. Daryna Apanaschenko, Nadiia Kunina and Sladana Bulatovic’s own goal earned the success. Medina Desic was on target for Montenegro – their first goal in the qualifying campaign in their fifth match. A day later the top two met in Essen and the Germans saw off Republic of Ireland 3-0. Marina Hegering, Dzsenifer Marozsan and Lea Schuller’s goals condemned the Irish to their first defeat in qualifying. On 22nd September, Germany went five points clear at the top with a 3-0 win in Montenegro thanks to goals from Laura Freigang, Melanie Leupolz and Sydney Lohmann. Ukraine won their second qualifier on the bounce after brushing aside Greece 4-0. Nicole Kozlova grabbed two with Darya Kravets and Daryna Apanaschenko also on target.