After 18 months of competition, the 12-nation line-up for next year’s UEFA Women’s EURO in Sweden was finally completed with Russia and Iceland relatively untroubled in qualifying. However, there was high drama as Spain ended Scotland’s hopes in the most heartbreaking fashion imaginable.
The trio now join hosts Sweden, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and holders Germany, who are aiming for a sixth straight title. The draw for the tournament will take place in Gothenburg on 9 November.
Elsewhere, USA and Germany played out two epic contests, while former Stars and Stripes mentor Pia Sundhage had a debut to remember in the dugout for her native Sweden. FIFA.com reviews all this and more in a busy week for the women’s game .
UEFA Women's EURO
Fast finishing Spain break Scottish hearts
Scotland seemed assured of a maiden appearance at Europe’s premier tournament until the intervention of Spain’s star forward Veronica Boquete with literally the last kick of the match.
After a 1-1 draw in Glasgow last weekend, the pair again exchanged goals to necessitate extra time in Madrid. Kim Little scored, allowing Scotland to take the lead with an extra away goal as insurance, and although Silvia Meseguer drew the hosts level with seven minutes remaining, the Scots appeared on track to edge the 1997 EURO semi-finalists.
However, Boquete, in a drama-charged finale, somehow went from villain to heroine within a matter of moments. After seeing her spot-kick saved on 119 minutes by a magnificent Gemma Fay stop, the Spain No9 then slotted home two minutes into added time at the end of extra time.
Iceland qualify in style
Iceland continued to demonstrate their rapid ongoing development by outplaying Ukraine over two legs for a second successive EURO appearance, having debuted at the last edition four years ago.
After claiming a 3-2 win in Sevastopol at the weekend, Iceland produced a carbon copy scoreline in front of a national record 6,647 crowd in Reykjavik for a 6-4 aggregate margin. Iceland’s Margret Lara Vidarsdottir, having scored twice in the away leg, netted again in the early minutes of the home contest for her eleventh of the campaign to set the Nordic nation on their way to qualification.
Russia end Austria’s breakthrough hopes
Russia booked their berth at the UEFA Women's EURO for the sixth time in the past seven editions with a hard-fought 3-1 aggregate victory over Austria. The Russians, having done the hard work with a 2-0 win in St. Polten, were forced to battle hard throughout the return contest in Rostov, despite taking a first-half advantage thanks to Anastasia Kostyukova's strike.
There was little between USA and Germany, the top two nations on the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking, when the pair met this week Stateside. Having drawn 1-1 in Chicago last Saturday, the pair again could not be separated, this time trading two goals apiece in East Hartford on Tuesday. Abby Wambach opened the scoring late in the first half and, though Tobin Heath scored midway through the second, Dzsenifer Marozsan twice cancelled out the lead.
Dream homecoming for Sundhage
Pia Sundhage’s return to her native Sweden began in perfect fashion after five years at the helm of world No1 USA. It took just 37 seconds for Sweden to open the scoring against Switzerland as Sofia Jakobsson put the 2013 UEFA Women’s EURO hosts on the road to a comfortable 3-0 victory. "We're going to do a job, we're going to talk football, feel football and it will take us far," said a confident Sundhage after the match.
Les Bleues again held
Four days after being held by England in Paris, FIFA Women’s World Cup™ semi-finalists France again failed to get the better of a European rival. Les Bleues trailed against the Netherlands in Eindhoven following a Sherida Spitse free-kick on the hour, only for Eugenie Le Sommer to level in the closing minutes for Bruno Bini’s side.