The FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying group stage has begun with the likes of England, Norway, Germany, Iceland and Austria all in goalscoring form.
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The FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying group stage has begun with the likes of England, Norway, Germany, Iceland and Austria in goalscoring form. Here is the story so far.
- Qualifying schedule: all the matches
- The seven groups
- Matches will be played home and away until 4 September 2018.
- The seven group winners will qualify to join France in the finals from June–7 July 2019.
- The four runners-up with the best records against the sides first, third and fourth in their groups will advance to the play-offs, which will consist of two rounds of two-legged knockout ties in October and November 2018 to decide Europe's last qualifier.
England hit the ground running with a 6-0 defeat of second seeds Russia including two goals from Barcelona signing Toni Duggan. Wales, who visit Russia on 24 October, won 1-0 away against Kazakhstan, who will host Bosnia and Herzegovina for their first game on 21 October.
Switzerland, fresh from their debut UEFA Women's EURO, started well as they won 4-1 in Albania and beat Poland 2-1 in Biel. Poland had opened with a 4-1 victory against Belarus, who then saw off Albania 1-0. Scotland start next month with a visit to Belarus and home game with Albania.
Norway did not pick up a point or score a goal at UEFA Women's EURO 2017 but this week saw off Northern Ireland 4-1 and Slovakia 6-1 as they prepare for their 24 October trip to new European champions the Netherlands. The Republic of Ireland are also off to a winning start, 2-0 in Northern Ireland.
UEFA Women's EURO 2017 runners-up Denmark triumphed 6-1 in Hungary while Sweden won 2-0 in Croatia as, under new coach Peter Gerhardsson, they prepare to host their Scandinavian neighbours on 20 October. Croatia also drew 1-1 in Ukraine with a last-gasp Ivana Rudelic equaliser despite Monika Conjar's first-half sending-off.
Germany, hoping to reclaim the World Cup after losing their grip on the European title, beat Slovenia 6-0 before a 1-0 victory in the Czech Republic thanks to an own goal. The Czech Republic had won 8-0 against the Faroe Islands, who lost away to Germany's next visitors Iceland by the same scoreline.
Italy, under new coach Milena Bertolini, have won both their games so far, seeing off Moldova 5-0 and edging to a 1-0 victory in Romania with a late own goal. Belgium defeated Moldova 12-0, Janice Cayman scoring four and Tessa Wullaert managing a 13-minute first-half hat-trick, and next month visit fellow UEFA Women's EURO qualifiers Portugal before travelling to face Romania.
Just the one game played so far as surprise UEFA Women's EURO semi-finalists Austria won 4-0 in Serbia with a Nina Burger hat-trick. In October, Serbia visit Finland while Israel host Spain, who on 28 November host their UEFA Women's EURO quarter-final nemeses Austria.