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Germany, Austria, Finland and Sweden set pace

Germany, Austria, Sweden and Finland registered two victories in the opening set of 2017 qualifiers, with England, Norway, France and Italy also starting well.

Leonie Maier, Alex Popp and Simone Laudehr all scored for Germany against Hungary
Leonie Maier, Alex Popp and Simone Laudehr all scored for Germany against Hungary ©Getty Images

• The qualifying group stage runs from Thursday until 20 September 2016.
• The group winners and the six best runners-up will join hosts the Netherlands in the final tournament in July/August 2017.
• The other two runners-up will play off from 17–25 October 2016 (after a draw on 23 September) for the remaining berth in the expanded 16-team finals.
September results
• Latest standings

Group 1
Action began on Tuesday with Kim Little jetting back from Seattle ahead of her club's league decider to get a hat-trick for Scotland in their 3-0 win in Slovenia, while Iceland secured a 2-0 victory at home to Belarus. FYR Macedonia get under way at home to Iceland on 22 October.

Group 2
Finland are the early pacesetters in the group. Having beaten Montenegro 1-0 on Thursday through substitute and competitive debutant Ria Öling, they travelled to the Republic of Ireland on Monday and gained a 2-0 triumph through Emma Koivisto and Linda Sällström. Spain, who started life under new coach Jorge Vilda by winning friendlies 3-1 and 2-1 in China this week, visit Finland on 27 October, when Portugal open at home to Ireland.

Linda Sällström (No18) put Finland 2-0 up in the rain in Ireland
Linda Sällström (No18) put Finland 2-0 up in the rain in Ireland©Sportsfile

Group 3
In the only game so far in the group, France made it 34 qualifying wins in a row on Tuesday by defeating Romania 3-0 with two goals from Eugénie Le Sommer. On 22 October, 2009 qualifiers Ukraine start against Romania, while competition debutants Albania host Greece. France visit Ukraine on 27 October in the likely biggest threat to their perfect qualifying run.

Group 4
Sweden, the 1984 winners who reached the semis on home soil in 2013, are off to a good start. On Thursday they prevailed 3-0 in Moldova, playing their first top-level UEFA Women's EURO qualifier, and then overcame Poland by the same scoreline, Olivia Schough getting goals in both games. Denmark, surprise semi-finalists in 2013, face Moldova on 22 October, five days before visiting Sweden. Slovakia open in Poland.

Sweden celebrate Lotta Schelin putting them 2-0 up in Moldova
Sweden celebrate Lotta Schelin putting them 2-0 up in Moldova©Boris Kharchenko

Group 5
Germany may be without the retired Nadine Angerer, Célia Šašić and Kim Kulig, but they have begun their bid for a seventh straight title in good form. They beat Hungary 12-0 in Halle on Friday then tonight triumphed 1-0 in Croatia through a double scorer in that stroll, Alex Popp. Croatia had won 4-1 in Turkey. Russia, who start away to Germany on 22 October, are on a sequence of four UEFA Women's EURO finals appearances in five editions but will hope to avoid a repeat of their fate in their first 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier – a 9-0 reverse in Cottbus.

Tabea Kemme and Pauline Bremer celebrate one of Germany's 12 goals against Hungary
Tabea Kemme and Pauline Bremer celebrate one of Germany's 12 goals against Hungary©Bongarts

Group 6
came through the preliminary round but it has proved tough for them so far, though they did score the first goal in the qualifying group stage three minutes in away to top seeds Italy through Gulnara Gabelia. Italy receovered to win 6-1 and Georgia then lost 3-0 at home to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, all three goals in the last 21 minutes. Georgia are also the first opponents for Northern Ireland on 24 October, when the crucial fixture between Italy and FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers Switzerland is played. Switzerland warmed up on Tuesday by defeating Denmark 4-1 in a friendly.

England's hat-trick debutant Danielle Carter
England's hat-trick debutant Danielle Carter©Getty Images

Group 7
England manager Mark Sampson, fresh from winning World Cup bronze, gave debuts to Danielle Carter and Isobel Christiansen in Monday's opener in Estonia. And it worked, as Carter claimed a hat-trick, her first goal in the second minute, and Christiansen's half-volley was the pick in a 8-0 win. Estonia had previously lost 1-0 at home to Serbia, while on Tuesday, Belgium opened with a 6-0 win against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Austria secured victory in Kazakhstan
Austria secured victory in Kazakhstan©Sergei Nadtochey

Group 8
The 2013 runners-up Norway, under new coach Roger Finjord, showed their strength with a 4-0 friendly success in Scotland on Thursday and followed that up on Tuesday by matching that scoreline with two goals each for Ada Hegerberg and Emilie Haavi in Kazakhstan, who had already lost 2-0 at home to Austria. In a potentially pivotal match between Norway's most likely challengers, Austria secured a 3-0 victory against Wales, now coached by former player Jayne Ludlow, on Tuesday. Israel's first match is at home to Kazakhstan on 22 October, the day before Wales visit Norway.

Ada Hegerberg on the ball for Norway in Kazakhstan
Ada Hegerberg on the ball for Norway in Kazakhstan©FFK Press/Sergey Nadtochey

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