Three nations featuring Chelsea Women players booked their places at the 2023 World Cup in the past few days and one handed a debut to one of our Blues stars…
Firstly on Thursday, Denmark sealed their place at next year’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Montenegro.
Midway through the first half the visitors did score a shock equaliser with their solitary shot on target all night, but a Pernille Harder penalty three minutes later settled any Danish nerves. It was awarded for a handball stopping a Harder free-kick in its tracks, and Denmark ran riot in the second half to make it eight wins from eight in qualifying. Harder completed the 90 minutes.
A day later, Maren Mjelde (pictured top) and Guro Reiten played the full game as Norway booked their automatic place at the World Cup by winning 1-0 away. The goal came on the hour from defender Tuva Hansen, her first at international level, defeating Belgium in what was a top-of-the-table clash.
Norway go through with a qualifier to spare, ensuring they will have played in all nine World Cup tournaments held.
On Saturday, England sealed their place at the World Cup finals when they also won their qualifying group with one more game to play. Needing just a point against the second-place side, a 2-0 victory in Austria did the job for the recently crowned European champions with the goals coming from Alessia Russo and Nikita Parris.
From a Chelsea perspective, the game was also notable for a senior international debut for Lauren James, who came on for the final 10 minutes. Also off the bench in the second half were Jess Carter and Bethany England while Millie Bright played the full game. She has been part of a Lionesses defence that has not conceded a goal in the nine qualifiers played.
Finishing second in a group is rewarded with a place in October’s qualification play-offs. On Friday Sophie Ingle and Wales enjoyed a momentous win in Greece where they won 1-0, leaving them needing just a point from their final qualifier to make it through to those play-offs for the first time.
The goal came from Carrie Jones, on loan at Leicester from Manchester United, when the ball came her way from a free-kick. Ingle and her colleagues have their chance to secure second place on Tuesday in Cardiff, when they take on third-place Slovenia.
New Chelsea signing Jelena Cankovic remained on the bench as Serbia went down 2-1 in Portugal. In a group already won by Germany, Serbia must now beat Israel on Tuesday and rely on Portugal not beating Turkey if they are the make the play-offs.
Katerina Svitkova came on for the final half-hour of Czech Republic’s comprehensive 6-0 win in Cyprus and scored her nation’s fifth goal in the 78th minute, a well-placed finish from 12 yards out. The Czechs, who cannot qualify for the World Cup, finish their campaign with a home game against Belarus on Tuesday.
It was Aniek Nouwen who was left the happier when her Dutch side and Scotland, with Erin Cuthbert on board, met in a friendly on Friday night. Playing at home, Vivianne Miedema put the Netherlands ahead early on from a pass from her former Arsenal team-mate Danielle van de Donk, but that lead lasted only two minutes. Claire Emslie equalised.
Cuthbert came closest to adding her name to the scoresheet in the second half when her powerful shot was saved. Nouwen entered the action just past the hour and after the Dutch hit the post, they won the game 2-1 with a minute left on the clock when after the ball had hit the woodwork again, this time via a save, it was bundled over the line.
The Netherlands can still win their World Cup qualification group when they return to competitive action on Tuesday. Scotland have already secured a play-off place.
Runaway winners in that group are France who won by a big 9-0 scoreline on Friday when they visited Estonia. Eve Perisset remained on the bench for that one. Paris FC’s Ouleymata Sarr scored four.
Sam Kerr and Jessie Fleming went head to head when World-Cup-hosts-to-be Australia met Canada for a friendly in Brisbane. Despite chances for Kerr and colleagues, a good performance by the Canada goalkeeper and a goal that had its origins in a Fleming free-kick that was not cleared, meant victory for the visitors.
There is a chance to see our international players in action at Stamford Bridge next Sunday when the WSL campaign starts there with a London derby against West Ham. Click for ticket info