Another round of thrilling European qualifiers took place ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, with Germany, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Norway and France all picking up vital points to improve their chances of travelling to next summer’s flagship event. Elsewhere, USA secured a victory in their maiden outing under interim coach Jill Ellis. As ever, is on hand to review the pick of the recent action in the women’s game.

Switzerland edge closer
Germany followed up a narrow victory over Republic of Ireland five days ago by beating Slovenia to extend their lead at the top of Group 1. Anja Mittag (2), Melanie Leupolz and Lena Lotzen all scored as the Nationalmannschaft thrashed Slovenia 4-0 in front of a crowd of 7,122 spectators. With 21 points, 47 goals scored and just 2 conceded, coach Silvia Neid’s team have all but secured their place at next year’s global showpiece in Canada. 

In Group 3, Switzerland edged one step closer to their first ever Women’s World Cup, despite failing to win for the first time in their qualifying campaign. The Eidgenossen shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Denmark thanks to a penalty converted by Lara Dickenmann early in the second period. Coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s team now top the group with 16 points, ahead of Iceland, who ran out 8-0 winners against Malta, and Israel.  

Scotland and France on top form
Recent results in Group 4 have only served to emphasise the importance of the Scotland-Sweden showdown on 14 June. Scotland stamped their authority on proceedings by beating Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 just days after the Scandinavians had secured a victory of their own over Northern Ireland. The win kept Anna Signeul’s charges in pole position, but the Tre Konor have two games in hand to reduce the six-point gap between the sides.

Norway might have been forced to settle for second place in Group 5 after beating Belgium 2-1, but goals from Ingvild Stensland and Ana Hegerberg ensured a fifth win in five games for last year’s European Championship finalists. The Netherlands thrashed Albania 10-1 to maintain their lead at the top of the section, but the Scandinavians only trail the Oranje by a single point despite having played two games less. 

Les Bleuettes underlined their intent to board the plane to Canada next summer by impressively dispatching Kazakhstan 7-0 before running out 3-1 winners against Austria on home soil. Goals in quick succession from Elise Bussaglia (31), Marie-Laure Delie (36) and Elodie Thomis (38) had virtually wrapped up all three points for the French before Sarah Puntigam pulled a goal back for the Austrians in the second half. 

Matildas beat Brazil
With qualification for next summer’s World Cup well underway in Europe, the USA’s new interim coach Jill Ellis was focused on steering her side to victory in a friendly on the other side of the Atlantic. The departure of her predecessor Tom Sermanni had been announced just hours after the country’s 2-0 friendly victory over China PR. And the Stars & Stripes put in another good performance against the Asian side this time around, with a brace from Carli Lloyd and a Sydney Leroux strike securing a fairly routine 3-0 victory in front of 12,857 spectators in San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. USA goalkeeper Hope Solo celebrated her 150th international appearance against the Chinese. The country’s qualification campaign for Canada 2015 kicks off with the start of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October. 

Australia could certainly have chosen to face an easier opponent than Brazil for their two recent friendly internationals. Yet despite slipping to a narrow 1-0 defeat in the first match, goals from Kate Gill and Michelle Heyman propelled the Matildas to a 2-1 victory in the second encounter, with Tamires Gomes netting the only goal for the South American side.