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Women's European Qualifiers Matchday 1: Spain sparkle, Germany comeback, Sweden deny England

Spain opened qualifying with another sensational display, Germany came back from two down to win and Sweden held England at Wembley.

Salma Paralluelo (centre) starred for Spain in Belgium
Salma Paralluelo (centre) starred for Spain in Belgium AFP via Getty Images

The new-look Women's European Qualifiers kicked off on Friday with plenty of drama as competition for spots at UEFA Women's EURO 2025 began.

While teams in League A compete to finish in the top two of their group and progress directly to UEFA Women's EURO 2025 in Switzerland (for which they hosts are automatically qualified), play-off berths, plus promotion and relegation ahead of the next UEFA Women's Nations League, are also at stake across the leagues.

How qualifying works

Spain won 7-0 in Belgium in their latest starring performance, while Denmark also secured an away Group A2 victory, 3-1 in Czechia. Germany also won on the road, 3-2 in Austria after falling two down, though Iceland lead Group A4 after defeating Poland 3-0.

England, looking to defend the title they won in 2022, were held 1-1 at Wembley by Sweden as France defeated the Republic of Ireland 1-0 in Group A3. Italy defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in Group A1, where Norway beat Finland 4-0.

In League B, where 12 play-off spots are on offer, among the opening winners were the side that will not need one, Switzerland, beating Türkiye 3-1 at one of the finals venues, Stadion Letzigrund in Zürich. That was in Group B1, where Serbia held Scotland 0-0, and elsewhere newly-promoted Malta also earned a goalless draw away to 2022 qualifiers Northern Ireland.

Portugal, another League B team who took part in the last finals, defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina. Slovakia, Ukraine and Wales also picked up victories.

Belarus, Bulgaria, Greece, Luxembourg, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia made winning starts in League C, which carries eight play-off places.

Fixtures and results

League A

Group A1

Italy 2-0 Netherlands 

Italy have qualified for every EURO since the group stage was introduced in 1997 and they are off to a good start after defeating the injury-hit 2017 winners in Cosenza. Just four minutes in, Valentina Giacinti latched on to a deep ball from Roma club-mate Manuela Giugliano and opened the scoring.

Missing the likes of Vivianne Miedema, Jackie Groenen, Lieke Martens, Jill Roord and Daphne van Domselaar, the Netherlands could not put Italy under pressure. And just before the hour mark, a high cross from Michela Cambiaghi, who had only been on for two minutes, was touched in by Agnese Bonfantini.

Italy celebrate victory
Italy celebrate victoryGetty Images

Norway 4-0 Finland

Norway have not missed a FIFA Women's World Cup or a EURO since the inaugural continental tournament of 1984, and in the snow at Ullevaal Stadion excelled despite the absence of Ada Hegerberg, Caroline Graham Hansen, Maren Mjelde and Frida Maanum.

Celin Bizet Ildhusøy made it 1-0 on 24 minutes and Sophie Roman Haug headed a second before half-time. Thea Bjelde opened her senior international account 12 minutes from the end and shortly afterwards substitute Elisabeth Terland produced a calm finish.

Next games: Tuesday
Finland vs Italy (18:15)
Netherlands vs Norway (20:45)

Group A2 

Belgium 0-7 Spain 

Spain are aiming to add a first EURO title to the World Cup and Nations League trophies they have claimed in the last eight months, and were ahead eight minutes in as Salma Paralluelo pounced on a loose ball in the box. Jenni Hermoso made it 2-0 eight minutes later from the edge of the area following fine footwork and a pass from Athenea del Castillo.

On the half-hour Alexia Putellas's flicked back-heel set up Paralluelo to force in her second and Spain's third. Paralluelo finished off another swift team move in the 47th minute to complete her hat-trick. Esther González replaced Paralluelo and two minutes later had a goal of her own, set up by Athenea. Another substitute, Sheila García, got her first international goal with five minutes left with a looping header before Esther got the seventh, again provided by Athenea.

Denmark made a winning start in Czechia
Denmark made a winning start in CzechiaAFP via Getty Images

Czechia 1-3 Denmark 

Denmark, another nation that have been in every EURO final tournament since 1997, made the most of their dominance in Uherské Hradiste, and were ahead in the seventh minute when Amalie Vangsgaard lobbed her former Paris Saint-Germain club-mate Barbora Votíková from around 40 metres out. However, a good Czech spell late in the half led to Andrea Stašková's equaliser.

It was still 1-1 midway through the second half but two headed goals in five minutes decided the game. First Stine Ballisager turned in Emma Snerle's corner, then Pernille Harder's cross set up Harvard student Josefine Hasbo.

Next games: Tuesday
Denmark vs Belgium (18:00)
Spain vs Czechia (19:00)

Group A3 

England 1-1 Sweden 

A qualifying record crowd of 63,428 at Wembley watched Sweden come from behind to take a point from the holders. Alessia Russo, who scored a famous back-heel in England's 4-0 Women's EURO 2022 semi-final defeat of Sweden, made it 1-0 on 24 minutes with a diving header from Lauren James's cross.

Just past the hour Sweden brought on Rosa Kafafi for her third cap and within two minutes she wriggled free and sent over a cross for Fridolina Rolfö to equalise, and the visitors held on for the draw.

Fridolina Rolfö enjoys her equaliser at Wembley
Fridolina Rolfö enjoys her equaliser at WembleyPA Images via Getty Images

France 1-0 Republic of Ireland 

France were made to work before taking the early lead in this tough group. Les Blues led after six minutes in Metz as Kenza Dali's free-kick was touched back by Maëlle Lakrar for Marie-Antoinette Katoto to turn home.

The home side continued to dominate, Eugénie Le Sommer hitting the bar, but Ireland showed they will be no pushover in the group as they prepare to welcome England to Dublin Arena on Tuesday.

Next games: Tuesday
Sweden vs France (19:00)
Republic of Ireland vs England (20:30)

Group A4 

Iceland 3-0 Poland 

Poland are aiming for a major tournament debut after promotion in the Nations League phase, but were undone by two goals within a couple of minutes late in the first half at a sold-out Kópavogur Stadium.

Bryndís Örna Níelsdóttir's shot deflected in off Poland's Małgorzata Mesjasz and almost immediately Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir's looping cross was headed in by Diljá Zomers. Jónsdóttir got the third herself midway through the second half with a superb finish.

Giulia Gwinn converted Germany's winner in Austria
Giulia Gwinn converted Germany's winner in Austria AFP via Getty Images

Austria 2-3 Germany 

Germany, who lost their Nations League opener in Denmark before ending up claiming bronze and qualifying for the Olympics, looked set for a slow start to this group as they fell 2-0 down in Linz just 17 minutes in through Eileen Campbell's double, the first goal from a rebound after charging down a clearance, and then a header from Barbara Dunst's free-kick.

But Germany had one back late in the first half thanks to Klara Bühl, who then equalised in the 49th minutes after combining with substitute Laura Freigang and Sjoeke Nüsken. And Giulia Gwinn, who scored four penalties in Germany's Nations League campaign, converted another to win the game on 63 minutes after Freigang was fouled by Manuela Zinsberger.

Next games: Tuesday
Poland vs Austria (18:00)
Germany vs Iceland (18:10)

League B

Group B1

Friday's results
Hungary 1-1 Azerbaijan

Switzerland 3-1 Türkiye

Tuesday's fixtures
Azerbaijan vs Switzerland (14:00)
Türkiye vs Hungary (19:00)

Group B2 

Friday's results
Slovakia 2-0 Israel

Serbia 0-0 Scotland 

Tuesday's fixtures
Israel vs Serbia (16:00)
Scotland vs Slovakia (20:35)

Group B3 

Friday's results
Northern Ireland 0-0 Malta 
Portugal 3-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Malta celebrate holding Northern Ireland
Malta celebrate holding Northern IrelandGetty Images

Tuesday's fixtures
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Northern Ireland`(15:30)
Malta vs Portugal (18:30)

Group B4 

Friday's results
Ukraine 2-0 Kosovo 
Wales 4-0 Croatia 

Tuesday's fixtures
Kosovo vs Wales (14:00)
Croatia vs Ukraine

League C

Group C1

Friday's results 
Georgia 2-2 Lithuania 
Cyprus 0-3 Belarus 

Tuesday's fixtures
Lithuania vs Cyprus (18:30)
Belarus vs Georgia

Group C2 

Friday's results
Slovenia 2-0 Moldova 
Latvia 3-4 North Macedonia 

Tuesday's fixtures
North Macedonia vs Slovenia (15:00)
Moldova vs Latvia (17:00)

Group C3 

Friday's results
Montenegro 6-1 Andorra 
Greece 1-0 Faroe Islands 

Tuesday's fixtures
Montenegro vs Faroe Islands (16:30)
Andorra vs Greece (19:00)

Group C4 

Friday's results
Kazakhstan 0-1 Bulgaria 
Armenia 0-5 Romania 

Tuesday's fixtures
Bulgaria vs Armenia (17:00)
Romania vs Kazakhstan

Group C5 

Friday's result
Luxembourg 2-1 Albania 

Tuesday's fixture
Albania vs Estonia (20:00)

All times CET