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England, Norway, Sweden close to joining Swiss

Published: Friday 20 June 2014, 10.06CET
In a week where Switzerland became the first European team to qualify, England, Sweden and Norway moved closer with crucial wins, but Finland suffered a costly loss in Austria.
by Paul Saffer
England, Norway, Sweden close to joining Swiss
Casey Stoney headed England to victory in Ukraine ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 20 June 2014, 10.06CET

England, Norway, Sweden close to joining Swiss

In a week where Switzerland became the first European team to qualify, England, Sweden and Norway moved closer with crucial wins, but Finland suffered a costly loss in Austria.

Switzerland are celebrating as the first European team to qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada next summer, and England, Sweden and Norway will look to join them during June's qualifiers. UEFA.com rounds up the action.

The seven group winners qualify and the four runners-up with the best records against the sides finishing first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups go into the play-offs next autumn for the one remaining UEFA berth in the expanded 24-team finals, for which the hosts and Switzerland have already been joined by holders Japan, Australia, China, South Korea and Thailand.

Group 1
Germany have won all eight games and warmed up for what looks a likely qualification by visiting finals hosts Canada and beating them 2-1 in a Vancouver friendly. In the race behind them, Russia remain five points ahead of the Republic of Ireland and have reduced Germany's lead to eight points.

On Saturday, Russia won 2-1 in Slovenia while Ireland needed a last-gasp Denise O'Sullivan goal to defeat Croatia 1-0. Russia and Ireland then drew 0-0 on Thursday. On 20 August, Ireland host Slovenia the day before Russia play Slovakia. Even if both win, Germany will only need a draw in Russia on 13 September, or at home to Ireland four days later, to confirm first place.

Group 2
Italy secured an impressive 4-0 win in the Czech Republic, with Patrizia Panico scoring twice to take her international tally to 105 and reducing the gap to leaders Spain to three points with two games left. Still, with a head-to-head advantage, Spain only need three points from their trips to Romania on 13 September and the Czech Republic four days later to clinch a World Cup debut, even if Italy beat Estonia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Group 3
Switzerland were the first European team to qualify when they overcame Israel 9-0 on Saturday with six different scorers – though it took a 1-1 draw between Denmark and Iceland the following day to confirm their progress. For good measure, Switzerland – who have never previously reached a major finals – won 7-0 in Serbia on Thursday, again six players on the scoresheet.

The focus now turns to the race for second place and Iceland – 5-0 victors against Malta – remain four points ahead of Denmark, who prevailed 5-0 in Israel on Thursday and have a game in hand. However, to make the most of that, Denmark will need to win in Iceland on 21 August.

Group 4
Sweden took a huge step towards Canada when Kosovare Asllani scored twice in Saturday's 3-1 win in Scotland, Kim Little's penalty having cancelled out Caroline Seger's early opener in a meeting of two sides that began the match with 100% records. Sweden then won 5-0 in the Faroe Islands while Scotland defeated Northern Ireland 2-0. Sweden and Scotland share top spot with 21 points, but Pia Sundhage's team have a game in hand – in Poland on 21 August.

Poland themselves were held 1-1 by Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday, meaning Scotland and Sweden are confirmed as the top two. On 13 September, Scotland host the Faroe Islands and Sweden play Bosnia and Herzegovina four days before the two contenders meet for their reverse fixture.

Group 5
Norway played their two games in hand on previous leaders the Netherlands, maintaining their 100% record by defeating Greece 6-0, with six different scorers, before winning 2-0 in Portugal, Maren Mjelde and Isabell Herlovsen striking again for an eighth victory. Norway are now five points clear of the Netherlands with two games to go and will qualify if they win in Albania on 13 September, or if the Dutch fail to beat Portugal. Even if that does not happen, Norway will only need a point four days later away against the Netherlands – who are assured of at least second place thanks to their head-to-head advantage over Belgium.

Group 6
England are just one point away from clinching the group after winning 3-0 in Belarus and 2-1 in Ukraine, Casey Stoney and Eniola Aluko striking early before Olha Ovdiychuk became the first player to score against Mark Sampson's side in the group. Wales won 1-0 against Turkey and 3-0 in Belarus with a late Natasha Harding hat-trick to keep the group alive, though they trail England by five points with two games to go, Ukraine nine further back but having two extra fixtures in hand.

England will qualify with a point in Wales on 21 August, the day after Ukraine visit Belarus, who they will have hosted on 2 August. Ukraine need victories in those games to stay in contention for second place. Ukraine play Turkey and Wales in September, when England visit Montenegro.

Group 7
Leaders France, with seven victories out of seven, were not in group action, instead travelling to the United States for two friendlies, losing 1-0 and drawing 2-2. However, Finland lost their perfect record as they went down 3-1 on Saturday in Austria, who perhaps crucially hold a head-to-head advantage having only lost 2-1 in the reverse game in Turku.

Without goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela who was sent off late on in Austria, Finland then beat Bulgaria 4-0 on Wednesday. The following day Austria won 3-0 in Kazakhstan and although they trail Finland by three points and have played a game more, Andrée Jeglertz's Finns must play France twice in September. Before that, on 20 August, France visit Hungary, and the next day Finland go to Bulgaria. Austria return to action on 13 September against Hungary.

Last updated: 20/06/14 15.05CET

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