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Women's World Cup play-offs: Switzerland and Ireland qualify, Portugal into inter-confederation play-off

Switzerland and Republic of Ireland booked finals places with their round 2 wins while Portugal are into the inter-confederation play-offs.

Switzerland celebrate beating Wales to qualify
Switzerland celebrate beating Wales to qualify Getty Images

Switzerland and the Republic of Ireland have booked their places at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup play-off after their play-off round 2 wins while Portugal will travel to the inter-confederation play-offs in February.

Portugal, Scotland and Wales came through Thursday's round 1 ties to join Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland in the second stage. Switzerland dramatically beat Wales and Ireland won in Scotland to ensure finals spots as the best two play-off winners. Portugal overcame Iceland in extra time but still have one more hurdle to clear if they want to reach the finals in Australia and New Zealand from 20 July to 20 August.

Who has qualified for the World Cup so far?


Hosts: 2 (Australia, New Zealand)
AFC: 5 (China, Japan, Philippines*, South Korea, Vietnam*)
CAF: 4 (Morocco*, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia*)
CONCACAF: 4 (Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica, United States)
CONMEBOL: 3 (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia)
UEFA: 11 (Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Ireland*, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland)
Inter-confederation play-offs: 3 TBC


Inter-confederation play-offs

A ten-team tournament will be held in New Zealand from 17 to 23 February to decide the last three finalists, with UEFA represented by the third-best play-off winners.

Continental allocation/Contenders
AFC: 2 (Chinese Taipei, Thailand)
CAF: 2 (Cameroon, Senegal)
CONCACAF: 2 (Haiti, Panama)
CONMEBOL: 2 (Chile, Paraguay)
OFC: 1 (Papua New Guinea)
UEFA: 1 (Portugal)

The teams will be split into three groups: two of three teams and one of four, with seeding decided by FIFA ranking. All three groups will be played as separate knockout competitions, with the winner of each qualifying for the World Cup finals. In the two three-team groups, the seeded team will go straight to the final (after playing a friendly against New Zealand or a guest nation) and meet the winners of the semi-final between the other two sides in their group.


Round 2 (Tuesday 11 October)

Switzerland 2-1 Wales (aet)

Fabienne Humm scored just before the end of extra time to book Switzerland's second World Cup appearance in three tournaments.

Wales had led on 19 minutes in Zürich when Rhainnon Roberts finished off a corner that had not been cleared. Ramona Bachmann levelled late in the first half, finishing off a superb passing move.

Switzerland had a penalty not long before the hour for a Rachel Rowe handball but Ana-Maria Crnogorčević hit the post and although she turned in the rebound, no other player had touched the ball so no goal was given. It seemed the game was headed to a shoot-out but as time ran out Humm turned in a cross from fellow substitute Rachel Rinast at the near post to end Wales's first-ever play-off campaign.

Fabienne Humm scored Switzerland's dramatic winner
Fabienne Humm scored Switzerland's dramatic winnerGetty Images

Scotland 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Ireland reached their first major tournament with victory at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The goal came with 18 minutes to go as the ball was played to Amber Barrett, who had not long been brought on, and the substitute advanced and shot past Lee Gibson, the victory enough for Ireland to finish as second best play-off winners.

Scotland, facing their former coach Vera Pauw, were on top early on and in the 13th minute Martha Thomas's shot was handballed by Niamh Fahey on to the crossbar but the resulting Caroline Weir penalty was saved by Courtney Brosnan. Ireland then came into the game and Aine O'Gorman headed over and Scotland somehow scrambled away after three visiting players had shots blocked from close range.

Amber Barrett scores to take Ireland to their first major tournament
Amber Barrett scores to take Ireland to their first major tournamentSPORTSFILE

Portugal 4-1 Iceland (aet)

Portugal are into the inter-confederation play-offs as, just like in round 1, they triumphed in extra time. They were on top from the off in Paços de Ferreira but the first half ended goalless. Early in the second period, Áslaug Munda Gunnlaugsdóttir brought down Jéssica Silva in the box and was sent off, Carole Costa converting the penalty. However, Glódís Viggósdóttir quickly headed in a free-kick to draw Iceland level.

The additional player told in extra time, however, as Diana Silva added to her round 1 goal with a solo effort, and further strikes from Tatiana Pinto and substitute Kika Nazareth sealed victory for Portugal. However, they are not yet through to their first World Cup as Switzerland and Ireland had superior qualifying records.

Tatiana Pinto got Portugal's third
Tatiana Pinto got Portugal's thirdOctavio Passos/Getty Images


Who qualified directly?

The two play-off winners with the highest rankings – based on results in the qualifying group stage (against the sides ranked first, third, fourth and fifth in their section) and the round 2 play-offs – Switzerland and Ireland – have qualified for the finals in Australia and New Zealand from 20 July to 20 August. The remaining play-off winners, Portugalm, will compete in the inter-confederation play-offs in New Zealand from 17 to 23 February; the draw is at 12 CET on Friday. The finals draw is on 20 October in Auckland.

Round 1: Thursday 6 October

Portugal 2-1 Belgium

Fatima Pinto's 89th-minute goal took Portugal through. In a frantic finish, Belgium had substitute Amber Tysiak sent off and Carole Costa hit the bar before Pinto got to the far post to turn in Joana Marchão's corner.

Marchão had made the 29th-minute opener in Vizela, providing the cross for Diana Silva to score. But Belgium equalised before the break when Marchão's handball conceded a penalty converted by Tessa Wullaert. The Belgian forward ends the campaign with 17 goals, equalling the best for any UEFA women's qualifying campaign, set by Germany's Célia Šašić for UEFA Women's EURO 2013.

Portugal now face Iceland in round 2
Portugal now face Iceland in round 2BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Wales 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina (aet)

Wales, in front of a record home crowd of 15,200 in Cardiff, somehow could not find a way through in the 90 minutes of a meeting between two teams in their first major women's play-off, having the ball in the net four times only for the offside flag to intervene on each occasion.

However, just before the end of the first extra time period, Jess Fishlock – in her ninth major qualifying campaign dating back to the 2007 World Cup – met Rachel Rowe's free-kick with a chipped volley.

Jess Fishlock takes the congratulations for her Wales goal
Jess Fishlock takes the congratulations for her Wales goalGetty Images

Scotland 1-0 Austria (aet)

Scotland probably had the better of the chances in a tight first 90 minutes at a rainy Hampden Park in Glasgow, but just as in Cardiff, extra time was needed. And just two minutes into the additional half-hour substitute Abi Harrison headed in an Erin Cuthbert corner to delight Scotland's competitive home record crowd of 10,182.

That proved enough for Scotland to knock out the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 quarter-finalists, and move closer to a second straight World Cup.

Abi Harrison celebrates her Scotland winner
Abi Harrison celebrates her Scotland winnerGetty Images
VAR used

How the play-off winner ranking was decided

To determine the ranking of the play-off winners, the results of the round 2 play-offs (three points awarded for a win, one for a draw, and none for a defeat; result after extra time was counted but no penalty shoot-out would have been) were added to the results of the group stage matches used to determine the ranking of the group runners-up (see Paragraph 14.04 of the official regulations). The following criteria were applied in the order given:

1: Higher number of points

2: Superior goal difference

3: Higher number of goals scored

4: Higher number of away goals scored

5: Higher number of wins

6: Higher number of away wins

7: Lower disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards received by players and team officials (red card = 3 points, yellow card = 1 point, expulsion for two yellow cards in one match = 3 points)

8: Higher position in the UEFA women's national team coefficient rankings used for the group stage draw (see Annex B.1.2 of the official regulations)

Ranking after group stage