There was no shortage of action on the latest women’s international matchday with the headlines hogged by England’s qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™. Elsewhere in Europe, Germany momentarily looked set to reach Canada without even taking the field, while France and Sweden greatly enhanced their prospects. Meanwhile USA, Netherlands and Brazil all enjoyed important hit-outs ahead of their respective upcoming qualifiers. FIFA.com reviews all of this week’s action.
Canada 2015 qualifiers
England punch ticket
England won through to their third successive Women’s World Cup in style with a comfortable 4-0 win over Wales, giving the Three Lionesses an unassailable lead over their rivals with a match to spare. First-half goals from Karen Carney, Eniola Aluko, Laura Bassett and Lianne Sanderson meant the contest was effectively over before the interval in Cardiff.
Leaders march on
Though not playing this week, runaway leaders Germany were denied early qualification - at least for now - after second-placed Russia came from behind to defeat Slovakia 3-1 and remain mathematically in the hunt for top spot. In other groups, Sweden put breathing space between Scotland and themselves after easing to a 4-0 win in Poland, with Lotta Schelin scoring twice. It was a similar scenario for a relentless France who now boast a comfortable lead over Finland after their 4-0 win over Hungary, which was based on a Eugenie Le Sommer double.
Jostling for last chance saloon
Denmark revived their hopes of Canada 2015 qualification via the play-offs with a tense 1-0 win in Reykjavik to leapfrog rivals Iceland. Pernille Harder’s lone strike approaching the hour mark provides hope for the Danes that they can qualify for the first time since China 2007. Ukraine are also well placed to secure a play-off berth thanks to a tough 3-1 win in Belarus, which sets up a pivotal final-day encounter against Wales.
USA, Netherlands, Brazil sharpen up for qualifiers
The first-ever meeting between world No1 USA and recent Women’s World Cup qualifiers Switzerland ended in a comfortable 4-1 win for the Stars and Stripes. A capacity 10,000 crowd in Cary, North Carolina saw Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Abby Wambach all find the target, with a second-half penalty from Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic sandwiched in between. The match serves as preparation for USA’s hosting of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October where three guaranteed tickets to Canada are on offer.
Meanwhile, Netherlands and Brazil also continued their preparations for upcoming Canada 2015 qualifiers with a hard-fought 0-0 draw. Young Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema – top scorer at the recent UEFA Women’s U-19 Championship – had perhaps the best chance of the contest but failed to convert with a first-half header. The teenager’s former team-mates were presented to the crowd at half-time in honour of their continental triumph amid a carnival atmosphere in Nijmegen. The Dutch have two final group matches next month in their Canada 2015 quest, while Brazil will start as favourites in next month’s Copa America Femenina where two guaranteed qualifying berths are on the line.