The eight automatic qualifying berths for the 2013 UEFA Women’s EURO in Sweden have been confirmed following the conclusion of the group stage across the Old Continent on Wednesday. Norway, Denmark, England, and best runners-up Netherlands, all clinched progression, alongside the already-qualified France, Germany, Italy and Finland. Meanwhile, Iceland, Scotland and Austria were forced to settle for play-off spots, joining Ukraine, Russia and Spain to battle for three remaining tickets for the 12-nation tournament. FIFA.com’s review of the latest women’s international action also looks at Pia Sundhage ending a successful five year-term with USA amid a flurry of goals.
UEFA Women’s EURO
Group of four achieve goal
Much attention was centred on Oslo as former world champions Norway held off a spirited showing from Iceland to leapfrog their opponents and into top position in the group. The home side went two goals up by half-time, but were forced to endure a nervous finale after Margret Lara Vidarsdottir pulled one back midway through the second period. Neighbours Denmark had the seemingly straight forward task of securing a home point against Portugal, but also had to overcome some jitters before finally scoring two unanswered goals in the final 25 minutes. England, like Norway, needed a home win to book their passage, which they duly did with a comfortable 3-0 home victory over Croatia, tipping out the Netherlands from top spot. However, the Oranje Leeuwinnen progressed to the finals after they finished as the best runner-up across the seven groups.
Second chance lottery
Scotland could have secured automatic qualification with a hefty winning margin over FIFA Women’s World Cup™ semi-finalists France, but rather it was Les Bleues that ran riot with a 5-0 winning margin as Eugenie Le Sommer and Marie-Laure Delie both scored twice. Austria also saw their hopes of an automatic berth dissipate thanks to Denmark’s win.
The first two nations to qualify, Germany and Italy, finished their respective campaigns in vastly contrasting fashion. Reigning champions Germany romped to a 10-0 win over Turkey as Martina Muller hit a hat-trick, while Celia Okoyino da Mbabi scored twice to set a new UEFA Women's EURO qualifying record of 17 goals, edging out the previous mark of 16 set by compatriot Patricia Brocker in 1995. Italy, meanwhile, were denied a perfect qualifying record after they were held to scoreless draw in Greece, leaving France as they only nation to finish with a 100 per cent winning record.
Sundhage goes out in style
Pia Sundhage ended a five-year stint at the helm of world number one USA with a remarkable 6-2 victory over Australia in Denver on Wednesday. Following a narrow 2-1 comeback win for the home side three days ago, the Aussies again threatened to spoil the party after they led by the same scoreline approaching half-time. However, the Stars and Stripes, lead by an Alex Morgan brace, responded with five unanswered goals, including four in the second half. Sundhage, who will shortly take the reins of her native Sweden ahead of next year’s UEFA Women’s EURO, concluded her stint Stateside with a remarkable record of 91 wins from 107 matches.
Australia, too, had their own farewell with Sarah Walsh scoring her team’s second goal in her final international, to conclude an eight-year, 32-goal career, which left the diminutive striker third on the all-time Matildas’ list of goalscorers.