Many nations began their World Cup qualifying campaigns this week and there was a nervous start for the European champions, who needed a very late goal to make it a winning start.
FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
GROUP 1 – Kazakhstan 0-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia 0-0 Wales
GROUP 2 – Scotland 5-0 Albania
GROUP 3 – Slovakia 0-2 Republic of Ireland, Netherlands 1-0 Norway
GROUP 4 – Croatia 0-4 Denmark, Sweden 5-0 Hungary
GROUP 5 – Germany 11-0 Faroe Islands, Czech Republic 1-1 Iceland
GROUP 6 – Italy 3-0 Romania, Portugal 0-1 Belgium
GROUP 7 – Finland 1-0 Serbia, Israel 0-6 Spain
Euro 2017 winners Netherlands began their World Cup qualifying campaign by becoming the first side to take points off group leaders Norway. But Chelsea’s Maren Mjelde saw her second-half penalty saved by Sari van Veenedaal for the visitors, whose Arsenal team-mate Vivianne Miedema eventually got the decider, 3 minutes into added time.
In the same group, Republic of Ireland took the points in Slovakia with Denise O’Sullivan and Katie McCabe on target in the first 33 minutes. Ruesha Littlejohn missed a penalty 10 minutes from time but the Irish secured a second successive victory.
Finland also got off on the right foot but needed some assistance in defeating Serbia. Substitute Mirela Tenkov conceded an own-goal 11 minutes from time to hand victory to the Finns.
Spain’s opening group game saw them put six past hosts Israel. Irene Paredes and Jennifer Hermoso both scored in each half, with Bárbara Latorre and Amanda Sampedro also getting in on the act.
Normal service was restored for Germany after their loss to Iceland, as Faroe Islands were sunk 11-0. Hasret Kayikci netted four times after the break, Tabea Kemme and Alexandra Popp each scored twice, while there was one each for Babett Peter, Kathrin-Julia Hendrich and Lina Magull.
Iceland drew 1-1 away to Czech Republic, Dagny Brynjarsdottir’s opener close to the interval was cancelled out by Eva Bartonova on 66 minutes.
Italy scored three second-half goals to defeat Romania 3-0 and record back to back wins. Cristiana Girelli bagged a brace before Barbara Bonansea got the third.
Denmark”s Pernille Harder got two goals in the first half-hour in Croatia, with Nanna Christiansen and stoppage-time substitute Signe Bruun adding late goals for a 4-0 win.
Like the Danes, Sweden also doubled their points tally, in their case putting five goals past Hungary. Lina Hurtig, Nilla Fischer, Kosovare Asllani and Caroline Seger all scored in the first half, with Asllani rounding off the scoring with 40 minutes remaining.
Belgium beat Portugal with a 47th-minute goal from Tina De Caigny, making it three straight wins for the Red Flames.
An own-goal by Lavdie Begolli set Scotland on the road to a 5-0 defeat of Albania, Fiona Brown, Jane Ross, Claire Emslie adding one apiece by the interval and sub Lisa Evans adding the fifth late on.
Wales returned from St Petersburg with a point from a goalless draw, as Russia had nothing to show for their 22 shots at goal.
Bosnia and Herzegovina made in a positive start in the same group as England and Wales, winning 2-0 in Kazakhstan. Alma Kamerić’s 2nd minute goal was added to midway through the second half by Milena Nikolić.
The next batch of qualifiers are being played from 23rd to 28th November, including England hosting Bosnia & Herzegovina at Walsall FC and Kazakhstan at Colchester United FC, with Wales entertaining the latter at Cardiff City Stadium.
Pictured top – Last-gasp goal joy for the Dutch. (KNVB Media)