This week, the ten rescheduled 2022 Women’s EURO qualifying group matches have finally ended; meaning the end of the first qualification stage, and determining the Finalists as well as the six teams that will play the play-offs in April for the three last spots. Let’s have recap of this final stage:
To begin with, on Thursday, February 18th, Spain clinched top spot in Group D after a demolishing 13-0 win over Azerbaijan on the road in Baku, led by five goals each from their Spanish international forwards Jennifer Hermoso and Esther Gonzalez.
Meanwhile, in Group E, on Friday, February 19th, Finland defeated Portugal 1-0 on an injury-time goal, which was their second consecutive last gasp winner after defeating Scotland away 1-0 in the previous round.
Forward Linda Sallstrom, who has been capped over 100 times and is currently with Paris FC, scored in the 93rd minute to give Finland the group title and an automatic ticket at the Final. Yet, Portugal is set for the play-in round.
In the other game that day, Scotland, already eliminated after losses to both Portugal and Finland late last year, blasted Cyprus 10-0 with a hat trick by Lizzie Arnot, and braces from Jane Ross and Martha Thomas respectively.
On February 23rd, six matches were held across four groups. In Group A, Slovenia visited Estonia and came away with a 9-0 win as Mateja Zver, Lara Prasnikar and Zala Vindisar each scored a brace.
In Group D, in the key match of the make-up games, Spain hosted Poland in Madrid winning 3-0 with two goals by Esther Gonzalez and one from Maria Leon. The loss sent the Czech Republic into the playoffs in second place with sixteen points to Poland’s fourteen.
The Poles will rue missed chances in the qualifiers after such a bright start, but overall it was a positive campaign for them. The Czech Republic crucially defeated Poland 2-0 away and had a scoreless tie in the home leg in head-to-head meetings. In the other game in the group, Azerbaijan defeated Moldolva 1-0 on a 46th minute goal by Aysun Aliyeva.
In Group E, Portugal upset Scotland again by a 2-0 score line in neutral Larnaca, Cyprus, after their 1-0 home leg win on November 27th of last year. Cyprus fell to Finland by a 5-0 score line in a different stadium in the same city.
In Group H, Croatia fell 1-0 to visiting Romania, while Croatia finished fourth with seven points. Romania remained in third place (twelve points) but seven adrift of second place Switzerland.
Now, here’s the list of the direct qualifiers for England 2020.
Group winners: Netherlands (Group A), Denmark (Group B), Norway (Group C), Spain (Group D), Finland (Group E), Sweden (Group F), France (Group G), Belgium (Group H) and Germany (Group I), along with hosts England.
Next, the three sides advancing as the best second place sides are: Italy (Group B), Iceland (Group F) and Austria (Group G) with Switzerland (Group H) losing out on an inferior goal differential to Austria (+19 to +14).
To conclude, the draw for the playoffs, which will be a straight random selection without seeding, includes the likes of Russia (Group A), Northern Ireland (Group C), Czech Republic (Group D), Portugal (Group E), Switzerland (Group H) and Ukraine (Group I). The pairings will be determined on March 5th.