European World Cup qualifiers continued with three matches Wednesday.
Kazakhstan 0, France 4: Group 7 favorites France banged home four goals in the opening 37 minutes to get their qualifying campaign off to a smooth start. Gaetane Thiney scored in the 17th and 37th minutes and Marie-Laure Delie and Sabrina Delannoy added goals. The win comes in France’s first match under manager Philippe Bergerôo after Bruno Bini’s firing. Kazakhstan, not expected to threaten the top of the group, dropped to 0-2 without scoring.
Finland 2, Austria 1: Emmi Alanen scored in the 86th minute to keep Finland perfect after two matches and on top of Group 7 over France, which has played one less game. Austria had also won their opening qualifier and looked to steal a road point when Nina Burger leveled the match in the 79th minute. Adelina Engman put the hosts on top shortly before halftime.
Norway 4, Belgium 1: Norway handled Belgium in their first match of consequence since their agonizing loss to Germany in the final of the European Championship. Caroline Hansen opened the scoring just five minutes in but Kristine Hegland ruled the day with a hat trick. Hegland found the back of the net in the 35th, 54th, and 66th minutes. Cecile De Gernier scored the Belgian goal in the 62nd.
European qualifying resumes Thursday with 10 matches across the continent. The pick is probably Iceland hosting Switzerland.
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