Over the past ten days or so there has been a vast number of international matches. European nations began their World Cup qualifying competition, Asia got its Asian Cup qualification under way and there were several friendlies. Ben Gilby rounds up the action in words and pictures.
Above: Dominant England celebrate during their 10-0 win in Luxembourg. Photo: Getty Images.
UEFA’s World Cup qualification games for the 2023 World Cup got under way.
Group A opened on 17th September with Olympic Games silver medallists Sweden gaining a narrow 1-0 win in Slovakia thanks to Friolina Rolfö’s goal after ten minutes.
The second round of matches took place four days later with Sweden gaining six points from six with a 4-0 thrashing of Georgia. Manchester City’s Filippa Angeldahl opened the scoring five minutes before the break before Chelsea’s Magda Eriksson doubled their lead four minutes into first half stoppage time. Caroline Sager added the other two in the final ten minutes with a penalty and another strike in injury time. Finland were made to work hard for their opening win in Turku as visitors Slovakia fought valiantly. Adelina Engman gave the hosts the lead after 37 minutes. Mária Mikolajová levelled matters just after the hour mark. The scores were only level for five minutes though as Ria Öling hit the winner for the Finns.
16th and 17th September saw the commencement of Group B’s matches. Spain came away from the Faroe Islands with a comprehensive 10-0 win. Amaiur Sarriegi grabbed four goals with Irene Guerrero, Alexia Putellas, Lucia Garcia, Patri Guijarro, Mariona Caldentey and Laia Alexiandri hitting one each. Scotland ended their frustrating run of results with a 2-0 win in Hungary with Erin Cuthbert and Martha Thomas on target.
On 21st September both Spain and Scotland grabbed their second wins by a large margin. Spain smashed past Hungary in Budapest. Esther González Rodríguez, Mariona Caldentey and Amaiur Sarriegi all grabbed braces with Athenea Del Castillo also on the scoresheet. At Hampden Park, Scotland comfortably dismissed the Faroe Islands 7-1. Chloe Arthur (two), Erin Cuthbert, Christy Grimshaw, Martha Thomas, Jenna Clark and Claire Emslie scored for the hosts. Maria Biskopstø scored a consolation for the Islanders.
Group C got underway on 17th September. Belarus swept aside Cyprus 4-1. Anna Kozyupa, Anastasia Shuppo (penalty), Anna Pilipenko and Anastasiya Shlapakova were on target with Antri Violari getting one back for the Cypriots. Netherlands began life after Sarina Wiegman with a disappointing 1-1 draw against the Czech Republic in Groningen. Andrea Stašková gave the Czechs the lead just after half-time. Vivianne Miedema’s customary goal saved Dutch blushes with seven minutes to go.
Czech Republic continued their strong start to qualification with a comprehensive 8-0 thrashing of luckless Cyprus in Liberec on 21st September. Andrea Stašková hit a brace and Kamila Dubcová, Tereza Krejčiříková, Lucie Martínková and Klára Cvrčková all weighed in too in addition to an own goal from Chara Charalambous. The Netherlands returned from Iceland with their first win of this embryonic qualifying campaign. Daniëlle van de Donk and Jackie Groenen scored the goals in the 2-0 success.
There were goals galore in Group D in the opening two rounds of action. On 17th September. Austria grabbed eight in Latvia after going a goal behind to Viktorija Zaičikova’s 12th minute strike. Marie Höbinger equalised five minutes later. Further goals from Nicole Billa, Barbara Dunst, Sandra Voitāne (own goal), Laura Feiersinger, and two in the closing minutes from Katja Wienerroither. England were similarly dominant in dismissing North Macedonia 8-0 in Southampton as the Sarina Wiegman reign got underway. Two goals from Ellen White and Beth England, two own goals (Julija Zivikj and Sara Kolarovska) plus strikes from Ella Toone and Beth Mead sealed the three points.
Northern Ireland comfortably dispatched Luxembourg 4-0 in Larne in front of a packed house. Marissa Callaghan, Rachel Furness, Emily Wilson and Lauren Wade scored the goals.
Four days later, Austria hit six without reply in North Macedonia. Nicole Billa grabbed a hat-trick, there was a brace from Marina Hanshaw and Marie Höbinger got the other. Northern Ireland gained a second successive 4-0 win at home with Latvia on the receiving end this time. Louise McDaniel, Kirsty McGuinness, Marissa Callaghan and a Rachel Furness penalty the difference. England returned from Luxembourg with a 10-0 victory in a game which saw some staggering statistics. The Lionesses had 82% of possession and 19 shots on target (to the hosts’ zero). Ellen White, Alex Greenwood and Millie Bright scored twice with the other goals coming from Nikita Parris, Rachel Daly, Beth England and a Jessica Berscheid own goal.
Group E opened on 16th and 17th September with a dominant 7-0 win for Denmark over Malta. Signe Bruun’s brace was added to by Sanne Troelsgaard, Stine Larsen, Pernille Harder, Rikke Sevecke, and Sara Thrige. Harder’s goal made her Denmark’s record international scorer with 66 goals in 129 games. Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered a 3-2 defeat at home to neighbours Montenegro in a game which saw four goals in the opening 19 minutes. Armisa Kuč ‘s two goals in the opening nine minutes set Montenegro on the way before a further two goals in the following ten minutes saw the hosts draw level as first Melisa Hasanbegović and then Milena Nikolić scored. Montenegro earned the three points thanks to Slađana Bulatović’s penalty on the hour mark. Russia also opened their campaign with a victory after they saw off Azerbaijan 2-0. Marina Fedorova and Nelli Korovkina were on target.
On 21st September, the Danes and Russians stamped their authority on the group with big victories. Denmark hit eight without reply in Azerbaijan. Stine Larsen’s hat-trick was added to by Signe Bruun’s brace and a goal apiece from Mille Gejl and Emma Snerle. Male Mollayeva’s own goal completed the rout. Russia dismissed Montenegro 5-0 in Moscow thanks to a hat-trick from Nadezhda Smirnova and single strikes from Nelli Korovkina and Anna Belomyttseva. A 2-2 draw between cellar dwellers Malta and Bosnia and Herzegovina did neither side any favours but Bosnia will feel the greatest frustration as they blew a 2-0 lead built in the opening 33 minutes thanks to goals from Milena Nikolić and Maja Jelčić. Malta hit back in the final ten minutes with goals from Maria Farrugia and Stefania Farrugia.
Group F opened on 16th and 17th September with Norway crushing Armenia 10-0 in Oslo. Caroline Graham Hansen and Lisa-Marie Utland both hit hat-tricks, with Guro Bergsvand, Karina Sævik, Julie Blakstad, and Elisbeth Terland grabbing the others. Albania and Kosova played out a 1-1 draw. Megi Doci gave Albania the lead just before half-time from the penalty spot before Valentina Limani levelled up. Belgium returned from Poland with a good point. Ewa Pajor gave the hosts the lead before Janice Cayman equalised with just over ten minutes left.
21st September saw Norway rack up another comfortable win, this time 3-0 in Kosovo. Viola Abduli’s own goal set the visitors on their way before later strikes from Julie Blakstad and Lisa-Marie Utland confirmed the win. Belgium continued their unbeaten start after swatting aside Albania 7-0. Jassina Blom’s hat-trick, Tine De Caigny’s brace plus single strikes from Janice Cayman and Tessa Wulleart completed the rout. Poland are also unbeaten after a 1-0 win in Armenia. Weronika Zawistowska scored the only goal of the game.
Group G’s opening round of games on 17th September saw the favoured teams all gain comfortable victories. Italy brushed aside Moldova 3-0 in Trieste. Christiana Girelli scored two goals in a 12 minute spell (one penalty) with Valentina Giacenti adding the third. Switzerland saw off Lithuania 4-1. Aston Villa’s Alisha Lehmann set the ball rolling on the 15 minute mark before Coumba Sow made it 2-0. Rimantė Jonušaitė’s strike gave Lithuania hope before the Swiss rallied and added further goals from Ramona Bachmann and Svenja Fölmli. Romania gained an important three points as they saw off Croatia 2-0. Laura Rus and Cristina Carp were on target.
Four days later, the same three teams all won again in comfortable style. Switzerland hit six without reply in Moldova. Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, Coumba Sow, Fabienne Humm, Svenja Fölmli, Riola Xhemali and Alisha Lehmann were on target. Italy returned from Croatia with a 5-0 win. Valentina Giacenti (two), Sara Gama, Cristiana Girelli, and Valentina Cernoia scored. Romania put three past Lithuania without reply as Laura Rus (two) and Mihaela Ciolacu scored the goals.
Germany opened their Group H campaign in imperious style on 18th September with a 7-0 thrashing of Bulgaria. Lea Schüller, Lina Magull, and Linda Dallmann all hit braces with Tabea Waßmuth completing the rout. Two days previously, Turkey held Portugal to a 1-1 draw in Alanya. Yağmur Uraz gave Turkey the lead before Jéssica Silva levelled just before the hour mark.
On 21st September, Portugal recovered from their disappointing draw in Turkey with a 4-0 win in Israel. Telma Encarnação got the ball rolling after just two minutes with Dolores Silva making it 2-0 with a penalty just five minutes later. The other two goals came in the second half through Diana Gomes and Carole Costa. Germany gained another routine win, but they had to come from behind to beat Croatia 5-1. After Nina Matejić gave the Croats a third minute lead, Germany hit back in style with four goals from Lea Schüller and one from Chelsea’s Melanie Leupolz.
Finally to Group I where it is already evident who the top three teams are likely to be as all recorded big wins. France won 10-0 in Greece. Marie-Antoinette Katoto hit a hat-trick with Grace Geyoro adding a brace. Amel Majri, Kadidiatou Diani, Viviane Asseyi, Wendie Renard and a Maria Palama own goal completed the rout. Wales hit six against Kazakhstan in Llanelli. Kayleigh Green (two), Tash Harding, Rachel Rowe, Gemma Evans and Ceri Holland were on target. Slovenia won 4-0 in Estonia. Two goals from Lara Prašnikar, Lana Golob and Sara Agrež all scored.
Four days later, Slovenia gave France a scare in Murska Sobata in a real see saw game. Lara Prašnikar gave the hosts the lead before Marie-Antoinette Katoto levelled eight minutes later and then put the French ahead with an hour played. A penalty two minutes from time from Mateja Zver looked to have earned the Slovenes an excellent draw, but another spot kick from Amel Majri four minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game earned all three points for France. Tash Harding scored the only goal in Wales’ 1-0 win in Estonia. In the final game of the round, Greece gained an important 3-2 win in the battle of the strugglers with Kazakhstan. Anastasia Spyridonidou (two) and an own goal from Aigerim Aitymova helped the Greeks to the win. Svetlana Bortnikova and Begaim Kirgizbaeva hit consolations for the Kazakhs.
The first qualification matches for the 2022 Asian Cup took place over the past ten days as a reduced tally of 23 nations began the process of trying to join hosts India and automatically qualified Australia, Japan and China in the event. Afghanistan were withdrawn after the Taliban regime’s disgraceful failure to allow women to represent the country in sport. North Korea and Turkmenistan were unable to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic and Iraq opted not to participate.
Group B opened on 23rd September with Vietnam gaining a huge 16-0 win over the Maldives in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Phạm Hải Yến scored six in 23 second half minutes and there were braces for Nguyễn Thị Thanh Nhã, Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Dung, single strikes from Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Ngân, Trần Thị Thùy Trang, Chương Thị Kiều Huỳnh Như and Hồ_Thị_Quỳnh. Additionally, Hawwa Hanefa contributed an own goal.
Group C began on 24th September in Dunstanbe, Tajikistan with Indonesia’s 1-0 win over Singapore thanks to a goal from Baiq Amiatun after just four minutes.
Group E, opened on 17th September with South Korea demolishing Mongolia 12-0 in Tashkent. A hat-trick by Moon Mi-ra, two goals each from Choo Hyo-Joo, Tottenham Hotspur’s Cho So-Hyun and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Lee Geum-min were added to by Lee Min-a, Chelsea’s Ji So-yun and Park Yee-un completed the rout. Three days later, Mongolia were on the receiving end of the same score line by Uzbekistan in Tashkent. Hat-tricks from Diyorakhon Khabibullaeva and Makhliyo Sarikova were added to by Nilufar Kudratova’s brace and a goal apiece from Saida Galimova and Maftuna Shoyimova. Altantuya Altansukh’s own goal was the other score. On 23rd September, South Korea clinched top spot with a 4-0 success against Uzbekistan. Two goals in the closing moments from Moon Mi-Ra plus Choe Yu-Ri’s effort and an own goal by Nozima Kamoltoeva ensured that the Koreans will go to the finals.
In Group F, Philippines gained a dramatic 2-1 win over Nepal in Tashkent. Bimala Chaudhary gave the Nepalese a ninth minute lead. But two goals in second half stoppage time gave Philippines the win as Tahnai Annis and Camille Wilson scored. Three days later, Nepal were held to a 0-0 draw by Hong Kong. Philippines ensured they will progress to the next stage of qualifying after another late goal saw off Hong Kong 2-1. Tahnai Annis put the Filipino’s ahead before Chung Pui Ki levelled on the hour mark. Chandler McDaniel’s strike with three minutes left in Tashkent guaranteed all three points for the Philippines which sealed their qualification.
Group G opened on 19th September, Jordan saw off Bangladesh 5-0 in Tashkent. Maysa Jbarah grabbed a hat-trick in 15 minutes in addition to goals from Shahnaz Jebreen and Bana Al Bitar completed the scoring. Three days later, Bangladesh suffered another 5-0 loss, this time to Iran. Behnaz Taherkhani hit two penalties in addition to goals from Melika Motevalli, Golnoosh Khosravi and Hajar Dabbaghi which sets up a qualifying decider between themselves and Jordan.
Group H saw its first action on 19th September in Al-Ram, Palestine with Thailand’s 4-0 win over Malaysia. Kanyanat Chetthabutr’s hat-trick and Nutwadee Pram-nak’s second minute effort sealed the three points. Three days later, Malaysia re-stored faint hopes of qualifying with a 2-0 win over Palestine. Andrea Lee and Steffi Sarge Kaur were on target.
All remaining games will take place before the end of November.
Brazil defeated Argentina 3-1 on 17th September. Debinha, Nycole Raysla and Angelina all scored before the hour mark. Bonsegundo got one back for Argentina in the last 20 minutes.
Chile and Uruguay played out a 2-2 draw on the same day.
21st September saw four further games. First, the Republic of Ireland gained a deserved 3-2 win over Olympic semi-finalists Australia at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin. The Irish took the lead after just three minutes when a curling free-kick from Lucy Quinn hit the left hand post and rebounded off of Matildas goal keeper Mackenzie Arnold and rolled in. The lead lasted for just eight minutes when the impressive 18 year-old Mary Fowler hit a great low shot from outside the box into the net. However, Australia, without several first choice defenders and still sticking with three at the back succumbed to several errors at the back. With 24 minutes on the clock, O’Sullivan’s deflected shot put the Irish back ahead only for Fowler to hit her second in first half stoppage time. There was another defensive calamity for what turned out to be Ireland’s winner just after the break when Louise Quinn escaped her markers at a corner to score. Impetus’ Kieran Yap analyses the game here: The Case For More Game Time For ‘Old’ Young Matildas (wordpress.com)
USA gained another straightforward friendly victory when they demolished Paraguay 8-0. The game was over as a contest with just eight minutes played as the Americans built a 3-0 lead in that period thanks to strikes from Rose Lavelle, Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan. It was 5-0 on the sixteen minute mark as Morgan grabbed her second and Catarina Macario was on target. Morgan completed her hat-trick just after half-time with Macario scoring her second and Carli Lloyd completed the rout with 12 minutes to go.
On the same night, Mexico defeated Colombia 2-0 with goals from Maricarmen Reyes and Maria Sanchez.
Finally, Costa Rica saw off a late revival from Panama to earn a 3-2 win. Costa Rica built a 3-0 lead by the 66th minute thanks to Carolina Venegas, Lixy Rodriguez and Raquel Rodriguez. Strikes from Marta Cox and Katherine Castillo in the final few moments of the game produced a dramatic conclusion.