International Round-Up

Ben Gilby rounds up all the news from the myriad of international matches over the past five days.

Euro 2021 Qualifying Play-Offs:

Above: Northern Ireland celebrate a second leg goal at Seaview. Photo: @NorthernIreland

Northern Ireland completed their fairy tale qualification for the European Championships after seeing off Ukraine, who are ranked 25 places above them in the world, 4-1 over the two legs.

In the first match played in Kovalivka on 9th April, Kenny Shiels’ charges started strongly. Marissa Callaghan, the Northern Ireland captain saw an early effort charged down before Nadene Caldwell narrowly missed connecting with Kirsty McGuinness’ cross.

Northern Ireland took the lead five minutes in when Tamila Khimich’s cross field ball was intercepted by Rachel Furness who went on to score.

The hosts levelled on 22 minutes when Daryna Apanaschenko headed home Iya Andrushchak’s cross.

Despite losing Furness to injury, Northern Ireland kept plugging away and received their reward just before the hour mark when Simone Magill got free and shot powerfully home to ensure the visitors took a 2-1 lead back for the second leg.

That second leg saw a clinical and controlled performance from Northern Ireland as they clinched qualification in style. The second half performance was particularly impressive and goals from captain Marissa Callaghan and a late clincher from Nadene Caldwell sealed the 4-1 aggregate success. This is almost certainly the greatest achievement in any sport for Northern Ireland and arguably one of the most amazing successes in UK sport.

Above: The scenes of joy in the Northern Ireland dressing room after the game. Photo: @SimoneMagill

Switzerland narrowly qualified for the European Championships after a play-off with the Czech Republic that was tight and tense all the way. The first leg in Chomutov saw the Czechs lead for the vast majority of the second half through Katerina Svitková’s penalty. The Swiss needed a penalty of their own in the last minute of normal time from Ana-Maria Crnogorčević to leave with a draw.

The second leg in Thun three days later followed a strangely similar pattern as Svitková gave the Czech’s a second half lead, with Coumba Sow levelling just before the hour mark. No further goals were scored, including extra time, so the qualification place was decided by a penalty shoot-out.

The tension ratcheted up with the first three spot kicks being missed as Switzerland’s Malin Gut and Sow failed along with Eva Bartoňová for the visitors. The Swiss never looked back after that with Alisha Lehmann, Lia Wälti and Crnogorčević all on target. Lucie Martínková and Svitková missed the decisive kicks for the Czechs, so it was Switzerland who qualified for the finals in England 3-2 on penalties.

Above: Joyous scenes for Switzerland after their penalty shoot out win over Czech Republic to qualify for the Finals. Photo: @nati_sfv_asf

The final qualifying play-off was another tight clash between Portugal and Russia. The decisive moment came in the 51st minute of the first leg when the only goal over the two games was scored by Nelli Korovkina.

Above: Nelli Korovkina, scorer of the goal which sealed Russia’s qualification. Photo: Alchetron

Friendlies:

7th April:

The international action kicked off with Belgium hosting Norway at Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium. In a game which was largely even, the visitors emerged 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Guro Reiten and Lisa-Marie Utland.

Belarus gained a 2-1 win over India in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Shuppo Nastassia’s penalty gave them the lead after 66 minutes before Pilipenka Hanna made it 2-0 on 75. India got a goal back in second half stoppage time – a thirty yard rocket from Sangita Basfore.

Japan thrashed Paraguay 7-0 in a thoroughly dominant performance which saw them have 16 shots on target to their opponents’ none. Two goals from Mana Iwabuchi, an own goal from Tania Riso and further strikes from Yuika Sugasawa, Yuka Momiki and Mina Tanaka settled matters.

Above: Action from the Republic of Ireland’s home game with Denmark. Photo: RTE.

Denmark dominated proceedings away to the Republic of Ireland but could only emerge with a 1-0 win thanks to a ninth minute goal from Nicoline Sorensen.

Argentina and Venezuela played out a 0-0 draw.

8th April

France defeated England 3-1 in Caen. For our full report on the game click here. For a French perspective, click on Jean-Pierre Thiesset’s review here. It also appears in the French language here.

Above: A fantastic win for Spain over the Netherlands. Photo: OneFootball.

Spain gained a fantastic 1-0 win over Netherlands in Marbella with Patricia Guijarro scoring the only goal after 31 minutes. The Spaniards mustered seven shots on target to the Dutch’s zero and had 69% possession in an impressive victory.

Wales went down to a 3-0 defeat to Canada in Cardiff. The Welsh put in a good performance but couldn’t match their visitors on the scoreboard. Deanne Rose, Evelyne Viens and Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming were on target.

Above: Canada celebrate a goal against Wales. Photo: Clwdpeldroed.

9th April:

Germany defeated a makeshift Australia 5-2 in Wiesbaden. Our full report of the game can be read by clicking here.

Italy edged out Iceland 1-0 in an even encounter in Coverciano. Arianna Caruso’s goal after 72 minutes was the difference.

Sweden gained an impressive 1-1 draw with the USA in Solna, and it could have been even better as the world champions needed a penalty from Megan Rapinoe three minutes from full time to equalise. Lina Hurtig put the Swedes ahead seven minutes before half-time. It was the first time the USA had not won a game they have played since November 2019.

Mexico drew 0-0 with Slovenia in Austria.

11th April:

Finland came from 2-0 down after 19 minutes to earn a 2-2 draw in Austria. Early strikes from Nicola Billa and Marie Hobinger gave the Austrians a flying start. Two second half goals from Eveliina Summanen ensured the Finns ended the game level.

Above: Tine de Caigny celebrates her match winner for Belgium against the Republic of Ireland. Photo: RTE.

A goal from Tine de Caigny after 19 minutes was enough to give Belgium a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in Brussels.

Japan hit seven goals again with no reply for the second time in three days, with Panama the victims this time. Yuika Sugasawa’s hat-trick plus goals from Riza Shimitsu, Yui Hasegawa, Yuka Momiki and Hina Sugita completed the rout.

Above: Action from Japan’s game against Panama. Photo: Japan Times.

Belarus won 3-1 in Uzbekistan despite going behind after just eight minutes to a goal from Nllufar Kudratova. Anastaslya Shlapakova levelled matters just before half-time with Pollna Shatsllenia and Karina Olkhovik settling matters in the second half.

13th April

England suffered a 2-0 defeat to Canada in Stoke. Our full report can be read by clicking here.

Above: Germany earned another victory, this time against Norway. Photo: Archy Sport.

Germany completed a very pleasing few days, chalking up eight goals in two games with a 3-1 win over Norway. Chelsea’s Guro Reiten gave the visitors an early lead before Laura Freigang levelled just four minutes later. Further goals from Linda Dallmann and Paulina Krumbiegel completed the victory.

Italy hosted Iceland for the second time in four days. This time, the outcome was a 1-1 draw. The Italians got off to the best possible start when Valentina Giacinti scored in the opening minutes. The scores were level five minutes before the break thanks to Karolina Vilhjálmsdóttir.

Netherlands produced an outstanding performance in defeating an Australia side missing three first choice defenders. Our full report can be read by clicking here.

Sweden returned from Poland with a 4-2 win. Ewa Pajor put the Poles ahead on 26 minutes, but there was a dramatic turn around with two goals in six minutes before the break from Stina Blackstenius. Pajor equalised for the home team just after the break. Again, there were two goals in quick succession from the Swedes just before the end of the half – this time through Caroline Seger and Lina Hurtig – to seal the victory.

Above: Spain celebrate a goal in their 3-0 win over Mexico. Photo: Football24News

Spain gained a routine 3-0 win over Mexico – clocking up 78% possession for the ninety minutes in the process. Despite this domination, it took until the 66th minute for them to score, with Marta Cardona finding the net. Nahikari Garcia scored twice in the last fifteen minutes to complete the win.

Wales earned a 1-1 draw with Denmark in Cardiff. Pernille Harder put the Danes ahead on 24 minutes after escaping through and slotting home. The Welsh, in Gemma Grainger’s second game as head coach, competed well and, following a brilliant team move, the equalised on the hour from an eye catching Jess Fishlock volley.

Above: Jess Fishlock wheels away after scoring for Wales against Denmark. Photo: Wales Online

France were defeated 2-0 by USA. Our review the game can be read by clicking here or in the French language here.

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