The first full set of 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers have been played, and while some of the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ finalists have made spectacular starts, at least one of that dozen are nursing bruises after the biggest of the shock results so far. With only the group winners progressing to the play-offs next summer with a chance to join hosts Germany in the finals, uefa.com reviews the first exchanges. Click on the individual group headings for full standings and results.
Iceland and France were both in the same EURO groups in both qualifying and the finals in Finland, and look on collision course again. On 15 August Iceland kicked off qualifying with a 5-0 defeat of Serbia and last Thursday overcame Estonia, new to this level, by a 12-0 scoreline, Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir adding three goals to the four she claimed in the first match. Not to be outdone, France won 7-0 in Croatia on Wednesday with six difference scorers, including two goals by Corine Franco. Serbia drew 1-1 with Croatia on Saturday but all eyes are already on the 24 October encounter between France and Iceland at Stade de Gerland. Northern Ireland also start their campaign in Croatia that day.
Another pool with two sides fresh from EURO, indeed beaten semi-finalists Norway and the Netherlands, but they do not begin until their 24 October fixture in Bekkestua. The only game so far produced a 9-0 victory for Slovakia against FYR Macedonia, Dana Fecková outdoing Vidarsdóttir with five goals. Belarus are also in the group and visit FYR Macedonia on 25 October.
Denmark, keen to make up for their group stage exit in Finland, made a good start with a 6-0 win in Greece on Wednesday, Cathrine Paaske Sørensen striking twice and Katrine Veje, Maiken Pape, Camilla Sand Andersen and Julie Rydahl Bukh also scoring. Bulgaria, Georgia and the side tipped to run Denmark closest, Scotland, all begin in October.
Last Saturday's first game produced a surprise as Ukraine, whose previous game was a 1-0 defeat of hosts Finland in their EURO swansong, lost 4-1 in Poland; Agnieszka Winczo claiming a hat-trick. However, on Thursday the tables were turned on Poland as Hungary beat them 4-2 in Sopron, the visitors leading twice but conceding goals in the last three minutes to Anita Padár and Fanny Vago's penalty. Hungary had already won 2-0 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with late goals from substitute Padár and Lilla Krenács, and that side also lost 4-0 in Romania. In the next two games in the group, Poland and Romania meet on 24 October and Ukraine welcome Bosnia-Herzegovina to Chernigov the next day.
Only one match so far as Spain – beaten in the EURO play-offs by the Netherlands – won 13-0 in Malta. Adriana Martín scored four goals and Sonia Bermudez and Ana Romero both claimed hat-tricks. In October Spain play Austria home and away while European runners-up England start their campaign against Malta in Blackpool. Turkey open their bid in November with the visits of Spain and England.
Both Switzerland and the Republic of Ireland have hopes of challenging EURO qualifiers Russia and that pair met in the opening game. Home side Switzerland won 2-0 last Saturday with a long-range effort from Martina Moser and Lara Dickenmann's penalty but on Wednesday they fell 2-1 to Russia in Baden, early goals from Tatiana Skotnikova and Elena Danilova doing the damage for the 2003 World Cup quarter-finalists. The next day Ireland won 2-1 against Kazakhstan, who are Israel's first opponents on 24 October. The following day Ireland are in Russia.
Italy, quarter-finalists in Finland, are off to a good start after following an 8-0 win in Slovenia last Saturday, aided by a first-half Pamela Conti hat-trick, with a 2-0 home defeat of Portugal courtesy of two goals from Patrizia Panico, also a scorer at the weekend. Finland, like the Azzurre, are in this group after having reached the last eight at continental level, and themselves have three points following a 4-0 win in Armenia, Sanna Talonen claiming the first of her two goals in the opening minute. On 24 October Italy go to Armenia and Finland visit a Slovenia side hoping to find the form that took them to a EURO qualifying play-off.
Another of the EURO quarter-finalists, Sweden, have the early advantage after winning 2-1 against Belgium in Gothenburg on Wednesday, with goals from Kosovare Asllani and Jessica Landström replied to by Femke Maes in the home side's first game since Victoria Sandell Svensson's international retirement. Belgium had won 1-0 in Wales last Sunday with a last-gasp Kristel Verelst goal, but Adrian Tucker's side bounced back on Wednesday as Jessica Fishlock and substitute Emma Plewa ensured they upset the Czech Republic 2-0. The two sides are rematched in Prague on 25 October, one day before Sweden are the visitors in Azerbaijan's first fixture.
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