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Women's Football

Qualifying hots up in Europe, USA march on

Abby Wambach #20 of the United States warms up
© Getty Images

Day-to-day club life was put on hold for countless players across the globe as international friendlies and qualification for the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015™ took centre stage. * *rounds up the latest from the world of women's football. 

*USA in goalscoring mood *Abby Wambach's thirst for goals shows no sign of drying up, as she demonstrated once again in the first of two friendlies USA played against Russia. In Boca Raton the 33-year-old’s 67th minute strike was her side’s last in a 7-0 rout, taking her total tally for the Stars and Stripes to 164. Carli Lloyd and Christen Press each notched a brace, with Heather O’Reilly and Sydney Leroux also getting their names on the scoresheet to help USA extend their impressive run of results. 

“It was a bit difficult for Russia, coming from the cold weather to this kind of heat and humidity,” said USA coach Tom Sermanni after the match. “But I think the way we played made it very difficult for them to defend the whole 90 minutes. Our ball movement, our support and the way we approached the game was very good.” The second match between the sides on 13 February in Atlanta ended in an 8-0 victory for the hosts, and Wambach tallied her 165th career goal for USA. 

*Setback for Sweden *By contrast, the Swedish national team had a rather less convincing start to 2014. Pia Sundhage’s charges were below par in a 3-0 defeat to France, with Louisa Necib’s double and a goal from Gaetane Thiney ensuring victory for the side ranked fifth in the world. The two nations do not return to World Cup qualifying duties until 5 April, with Sweden currently second in Group 4, while France top Group 7.

New Zealand were also left licking their wounds following a 1-0 reverse against China PR in the first game of the four-team Yongchuan International Women’s Invitational Tournament. The Football Ferns later succumbed to Korea DPR by the same scoreline. Mexico have likewise failed to earn a single point so far, losing 2-0 to the Koreans and 3-1 to China. The tournament’s final two games are scheduled to take place on 15 February.

*Switzerland on course *Countless international friendlies may have been on the agenda all over the world, but in Europe teams were in the thick of Canada 2015 qualifying action. Switzerland took another big step towards reaching the finals for the first time with a 5-0 thrashing of Israel to stay top of Group 3 with 12 points.

Norway also bolstered their chances of securing a World Cup berth thanks to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Greece. The result lifted the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 finalists to the Group 5 summit after direct rivals Belgium and the Netherlands drew 1-1.

In Group 2 coach Antonio Cabrini’s Italy side made light work of Czech Republic, running out 6-1 winners at the final whistle. Spain remain the undisputed group leaders though after brushing FYR Macedonia aside 12-0, with Natalia grabbing five of the goals.

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