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Women's Nations League Matchday 6: Netherlands pip England, Germany also in finals

In dramatic circumstances, the Netherlands pipped England to the inaugural finals, joining Germany, who also qualified on Tuesday, France and Spain.

Damaris Egurrola (left) was the Netherlands' hero twice in added time
Damaris Egurrola (left) was the Netherlands' hero twice in added time ANP/AFP via Getty Images

In the most dramatic circumstances, the Netherlands pipped England to February's inaugural UEFA Women's Nations League finals, joining Germany, who also qualified on Tuesday, France and Spain.

While teams in League A competed to win their groups and progress to February's finals, which will also act as UEFA's 2024 women's Olympic football tournament qualifiers, promotion and relegation was also at stake. The leagues that emerge at the end of this first edition following the play-offs will be used for the European Qualifiers leading to UEFA Women's EURO 2025 in Switzerland.

How it ended

Through to finals (League A group winners): France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain

Remain in League A: Austria, Denmark, England, Italy

Relegated from League A: Portugal, Scotland, Switzerland, Wales

Promoted from League B: Czechia, Finland, Poland, Republic of Ireland

Confirmed in League A/B play-offs: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Sweden

Relegated from League B: Albania, Belarus, Greece, Romania, Slovenia

Promoted from League C: Azerbaijan, Israel, Kosovo, Malta, Türkiye

League B/C play-offs: Bulgaria, Latvia, Montenegro, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Ukraine

Remain in League C: Andorra, Armenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, North Macedonia

The Netherlands and England were split on goal difference at kick-off in Group A1, and at the end too after both won. In a dramatic sequence of added-time goals, the Netherlands went 3-0 up against Belgium to return to the summit, and then England moved 6-0 in front in Scotland to overtake them again on goals scored as the game ended at Hampden Park, only for the Dutch to strike once more in Tilburg.

Germany were held 0-0 in Wales but that proved enough to finish top of Group A3 ahead of Denmark, beaten 1-0 at home by Iceland. Elsewhere in League A, Portugal were relegated after losing to France and Belgium, Norway and Sweden joined Iceland in the relegation play-offs.

Czechia took the last automatic promotion slot from League B, beating Slovenia 4-0 to top Group B4 and join previously confirmed Finland, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. Bosnia and Herzegovina, behind Czechia, had to settle for a promotion play-off alongside Croatia and Hungary, who both booked their slots today, and Serbia.

Slovenia, as the third-placed team with the worst record, are automatically relegated along with Greece following their 2-0 loss in Poland, with Albania, Belarus and Romania already down before today. Northern Ireland, Slovakia and Ukraine face play-offs to maintain League B status.

Israel and Malta won in League C to clinch automatic promotion alongside Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Türkiye (who ended with six wins and 16 unanswered goals). Sharon Beck proved instrumental in Israel's 4-1 defeat of Estonia, registering a second league stage hat-trick to end as top scorer with nine. Elsewhere, Latvia, Montenegro and Bulgaria will aim for promotion in the play-offs.

 Malta celebrate promotion
Malta celebrate promotionDomenic Aquilina
League stage results

League A

Group A1

Netherlands 4-0 Belgium
The Netherlands, having seen a 2-0 lead disappear in Friday's 3-2 loss in England, still had a goal difference lead of three over the Lionesses at kick-off, with Belgium a point behind. Lineth Beerensteyn gave the Netherlands a 1-0 half-time lead in Tilburg, but England's 4-0 advantage in Scotland meant the Dutch trailed on goals scored.

Beerensteyn, winning her 100th cap, struck a second on 54 minutes, but England still held the edge. Damaris Egurrola scored early in added time, and although England managed another, so did she to send the crowd wild and the Netherlands to the finals. Belgium face a relegation play-off despite home wins against the last two European champions.

Scotland 0-6 England
Scotland, already relegated, found their southern rivals in determined mood as Alex Greenwood scored early, Lauren James hit a quick-fire double and Beth Mead, on her first England start since injury, made it four just before the break.

Fran Kirby added another on 49 minutes and Lucy Bronze, who had just hit her own post, then registered a sixth – and seemed to have sent the European champions and FIFA Women's World Cup runners-up to the finals. The Netherlands and Damaris had other ideas, her goal going in while the England players were waiting for news on the Hampden Park turf.

Group A2

Portugal 0-1 France
France, who booked a finals slot on Friday by beating Austria, finished as the only unbeaten team in League A with a result that relegated Portugal. Victory for the hosts would have lifted them above Norway, where Portugal lost 4-0 last week, and they threatened in the first half against a much-changed France side.

However, in the second period, substitutes helped France find their groove. After hitting the woodwork three times, Les Bleues won the game deep in added time through one of those replacements when Grace Geyoro turned in Vicki Becho's deflected cross.

Austria 2-1 Norway
Austria maintained their League A status and sent Norway into the relegation play-offs with victory in St. Pölten. The home side were in control from the start and were soon 1-0 up when Lilli Purtscheller's cross was converted by Eileen Campbell.

Norway had a chance to level in the 87th minute when a handball gave them a penalty, but Marit Lund sent the resultant spot kick over. Substitute Katharina Schiechtl doubled Austria's lead before Karina Sævik got a late consolation.

Group A3

Wales 0-0 Germany
Relegated Wales ensured they ended the group with a point, but Germany were also celebrating as the draw, combined with Denmark's defeat, sent them to the finals.

Wales might even have taken the lead, yet Rachel Rowe's first-half effort hit a post. And although there were chances at both ends, the stalemate proved enough for Germany to finish top, having bounced back from their opening 2-0 loss in Denmark with four straight wins, including Friday's crucial 3-0 defeat of the previous leaders.

Denmark 0-1 Iceland
Denmark missed their chance to reach the finals against a side already confirmed in the relegation play-offs. Iceland held out comfortably in the first half, before Denmark raised their game following the break.

However, it was Iceland who got the only goal with 13 minutes left. Although Denmark goalkeeper Lene Christensen parried Karólína Vilhjálmsdóttir's initial effort, the midfielder duly turned in the rebound.

Spain 5-3 Sweden
Spain's dramatic 3-2 win in Sweden on Matchday 1 proved crucial to the world champions ensuring a finals place with a game to spare, and they celebrated with a similarly thrilling victory in front of their record crowd of 15,896 in Malaga.

Sweden, who knew a win would confirm their Group A status, led in the first minute through Julia Zigotti Olme, and although Salma Paralluelo equalised, Kosovare Asllani soon restored the visitors' advantage. Stina Blackstenius made it 3-1 before the half-hour.

Athenea del Castillo pulled one back early in the second half and, in the last 12 minutes, the match was turned as Mariona Caldentey struck twice, either side of a goal from teenage substitute Fiamma Benítez. Spain ended as the top scorers across the leagues with 23 goals, while Sweden will enter the relegation play-offs.

Italy 3-0 Switzerland
Sweden's failure to win gave Italy the chance to avoid those play-offs and they did just that against the already-relegated UEFA Women's EURO 2025 hosts. An attacking-looking Azzurre side were ahead in the 31st minute through Manuela Giugliano's volley.

Cecilia Salvai doubled the lead early in the second half, tapping in a rebound after Elvira Herzog's fine save from Michela Cambiaghi. And, with news filtering through of Spain's comeback against Sweden, Arianna Caruso's fine finish sealed victory and Italy's League A status.

League B

Group B1

Hungary 6-0 Albania
Northern Ireland 1-6 Republic of Ireland

Group B2 

Romania 0-1 Croatia
Slovakia 2-2 Finland

Group B3

Poland 2-0 Greece
Serbia 0-1 Ukraine

Group B4 

Czechia 4-0 Slovenia
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 Belarus

League C

Group C1 

Malta 2-1 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Moldova

Group C2 

Türkiye 2-0 Georgia
Luxembourg 1-1 Lithuania

Group C3 

Azerbaijan 1-0 Faroe Islands
Montenegro 2-0 Cyprus

Group C4 

Israel 4-1 Estonia
Kazakhstan 4-1 Armenia

Group C5 

Bulgaria 2-2 North Macedonia

Women's Nations League: How it works

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