Hat-trick heroes and favourites in top form

  • European Women’s World Cup qualifying resumed in October

  • Goals galore for France, Denmark, the Netherlands and England

  • Beth Mead nets historic hat-trick

The favourites to top Europe’s qualifying groups for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ did not put a foot wrong in October, with no big surprises to report.

Europe: Results in October

Group A A total of 4,017 fans witnessed an entertaining duel between the team ranked No.2 in the world and the Republic of Ireland. Although Vera Pauw’s side were narrowly beaten 1-0 by table-toppers Sweden in their opening World Cup qualifier, they showed that they can hold their own against top-quality opponents. An own goal from Louise Quinn ultimately proved the difference between the two teams. The Irish followed this up with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Finland to claim a vital first win of the campaign.

Group B Spain and Scotland continue to dominate this group. A 90th-minute winner from Rachel Corsie sealed a 2-1 victory for the Scots over Hungary to maintain Pedro Martinez Losa’s perfect record as their new head coach. The Spanish also stayed on track for success, reasserting their position above Scotland at the top of the table with a resounding 6-0 triumph over Ukraine, who in turn defeated the Faroe Islands 4-0 in their previous qualifier.

Group C The OranjeLeeuwinnen returned to scintillating form with an emphatic 8-0 win over Cyprus and a 2-0 victory against Belarus to position themselves at the upper end of the table. Meanwhile Czech Republic suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Iceland, forcing them to surrender second place to their conquerors, who also downed Cyprus comfortably in a 5-0 win.

Group D England continue to make a flawless start to their qualifying campaign as Sarina Wiegman’s side set the tone with a 4-0 defeat of group rivals Northern Ireland. Arsenal striker Beth Mead delivered a dazzling performance, becoming the first woman to score a hat-trick for England at Wembley despite only coming on as a substitute in the 63rd minute. The Lionesses followed this up with a veritable goalfest as they beat Latvia 10-0, with Ella Toone netting three this time around. England’s closest rivals in the group are Austria and Northern Ireland, who shared the points in a 2-2 draw.

Group E Montenegro continued to climb the table in October by claiming all three points against Azerbaijan, just as Sladjana Bulatovic had said they were aiming to do in an interview with FIFA.com. Nevertheless, Denmark proved too strong an opponent in their second match, running out as 5-1 winners. The group now appears to be a two-horse race between the Danes and Russia, who also boast the full 12 points after recording their fourth successive victory. The two rivals will go head-to-head in the next round of matches on 30 November.

Group F Norway emerged from this round of qualifying as the clear winners. With the 1995 world champions and Belgium level on seven points after their first three matches, the Norwegians recorded an emphatic 4-0 win over the Red Flames to claim top spot outright. Guro Bergsvand, Caroline Graham Hansen, Elisabeth Terland and Ingrid Syrstad Engen all found the back of the net for Norway. Meanwhile Poland claimed second place in the group after beating Albania 2-0.

Group G Switzerland and Italy both avoided slip-ups to remain unbeaten in October. Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic scored a brace for the Swiss against Romania to fire Nils Nielsen’s side to a 2-0 win. She found the target again against Croatia, joining Noelle Maritz, Ramona Bachmann (2) and Rachel Rinast on the scoresheet as they triumphed 5-0. The Italians proved similarly goal-hungry in their quest for a World Cup spot, defeating Croatia 3-0 and Lithuania 5-0. The group’s top two sides meet in Palermo on 26 November to find out who will consolidate top spot in the group.

Group H Germany continue to set the pace in Group H after collecting six points from two 1-0 and 7-0 wins over Israel. It will be exciting to see who gains the upper hand in the battle for second place. Portugal are currently leading the chasing pack, beating Serbia 2-1 and Bulgaria 5-0 after Turkey lost ground by losing 2-0 to Serbia. Group leaders Germany face Turkey in their next game before travelling to Faro to meet Portugal – two matches that could reshuffle the pack all over again.

Group I With 29 goals from four matches, only England have netted more often than France. The Women’s World Cup 2019 hosts scored 16 goals in their October matches by beating Estonia 11-0 and Kazakhstan 5-0, giving Les Bleues a timely boost after their laboured win over Slovenia last month. Meanwhile, Wales consolidated second place with a 4-0 victory over Estonia.

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