Successful qualifying debuts as groups take shape
Hrubesch and Neville make positive start in qualifying
Women's World Cup in sight for Italy, Switzerland and Spain
Next qualifiers take place between 7-12 June
Qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ is entering its decisive phase in Europe. Germany celebrated two victories under a new coach to cement their place at the Group 5 summit ahead of Iceland, while England boss Phil Neville can also look back on a successful start to his qualifying tenure after his side took over at the top of Group 1.
Switzerland, Spain and Italy all put in strong performances to take a big step towards rubberstamping their place at France 2019. All three teams are well clear at the top of their groups and are on course for qualifying.
Group 1: England (13 points), Wales (11), Russia (7), Bosnia and Herzegovina, (3), Kazakhstan (0)
Group 2: Switzerland (15), Scotland (9) Poland (7), Albania (4) Belarus (3)
Group 3: Netherlands (13), Republic of Ireland (10), Norway, (9), Northern Ireland (3), Slovakia (0)
Group 4: Sweden (12), Denmark (9), Ukraine (7), Hungary (4), Croatia (2)
Group 5: Germany (15), Iceland (13), Czech Republic (7), Slovenia (3), Faroe Islands (0)
Group 6: Italy (18), Belgium, (10), Portugal, Romania (both on 4), Moldova (1)
Group 7: Spain (15) Austria, Finland, Serbia (all on 7), Israel (1)
Group 1: England record crucial win After the Lionesses were held to a goalless draw by fierce rivals Wales at the start of the international break, a subsequent 2-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina earned them some breathing space. Toni Duggan and Jodie Taylor got the goals that lifted England two points clear of Wales at the top, and with both teams having played the same number of games, Neville's side now have their fate in their own hands. They could even secure automatic qualification when they travel to Wales on 31 August.
Group 2: Switzerland maintain 100 per cent record Switzerland are yet to drop a point in their qualifying campaign after securing a narrow 1-0 win over Scotland. It was a fifth victory in as many games for Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's charges, who have a big lead at the top of the Group 2 table. Lara Dickenmann's 32nd-minute strike was the difference between the sides on her 130th international outing, taking her past the record previously held by Martina Moser, who hung up her boots after the UEFA Women's EURO 2017 in the Netherlands.
Group 3: European champions win top-of-the-table clash This pool is considerably more open. European champions the Netherlands were level on ten points with Republic of Ireland going into their head-to-head duel, with both teams well aware that only the group winners secure an automatic World Cup berth. In the end, goals from Lineth Beerensteyn and Sherida Spitse earned the Dutch a 2-0 win. Norway remain hot on the heels of the top two thanks to a 3-0 triumph over Northern Ireland.
Group 4: No change in the standings Sweden remain top ahead of Denmark after both teams posted victories, respectively beating Hungary 4-1 and Ukraine 1-0. Ukraine now sit in third place and, mathematically at least, are not yet out of the running. "The reason for the defeat is pretty simple," said head coach Volodymyr Reva after the loss to Denmark. "They're one of the best teams in Europe and were a yard quicker than us. There were hardly any chances in the first half and we didn't have enough stamina in the second, which is when they scored. We began to tire as they started to increase the pressure."
Group 5: Confidence boost for Germany "Regardless of the situation we're in right now, we have to win both matches," said Alexandra Popp ahead of Germany's assignments against Czech Republic and Slovenia, their first games under caretaker head coach Horst Hrubesch. Germany had a spring in their step with the new tactician on the touchline and swept the Czechs aside 4-0 before beating Slovenia by the same scoreline three days later. Those results, coupled with Iceland's 5-0 thumping of Faroe Islands, mean Germany and Iceland will go head-to-head for top spot in the group when they meet on 1 September.
Group 6: World Cup within touching distance Italy have a commanding lead in the race to get to the Women's World Cup. In their six-pointer against second-placed Belgium, coach Milena Bertolini's side edged a 2-1 victory to open up an eight-point cushion at the top. Prior to that, Italy had beaten Moldova 3-1, while Belgium shared a 1-1 draw with Portugal. Should Italy beat Portugal in June they will seal their third tournament appearance following on from the 1991 and 1999 editions, as a total of 21 points would give them an unassailable lead.
Group 7: Spain pull away Austria suffered a significant setback en route to France 2019 with a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Spain at the BSFZ Arena. Jennifer Hermoso scored the only goal of the game for the visitors in the 58th minute. That has left Austria in a tense three-way tussle with Finland and Serbia for second place. Only the four best group runners-up qualify for the play-offs to determine the last European ticket.