Also in today’s Roundup, Marta named finalist for FIFA Best honor
Norway scored twice in the opening six minutes and held on to defeat European champion Netherlands 2-1 and qualify for next summer’s World Cup. Netherlands will now have to survive a four-way playoff to be staged in October and November. Germany, Sweden, and debutante Scotland also secured spots at the World Cup while Belgium, Denmark, and Switzerland will join Netherlands in the final. Iceland and Wales who both dropped home matches against giant sides over the weekend when wins would have qualified them, were eliminated despite finishing runner-up in their groups, as were Austria.
Ingrid Syrstad Engen put Norway on top in the 5th minute and before Netherlands had a chance to process what happened, Isabell Herlovsen made it 2-0 in the 6th. Vivianne Miedema cut the lead in the 31st minute but the visitors could not find the equalizer despite outshooting their hosts 20-8. Norway remain perfect having participated in every World Cup.
The shocker of the day came in Poland where Switzerland were held to a 0-0 draw when a win would have secured them the group. With the door open, in walked Scotland who won 2-1 in Albania to win Group 2 and advance to the World Cup. Jane Ross broke a 1-1 tie in the 68th minute with what surely goes down as the most important international goal ever scored by a Scottish woman. Former NWSL Most Valuable Player Kim Little put Scotland on top early but Megi Doci leveled it just before halftime to keep things interesting.
Sweden, needing only a draw, came out of the halftime break flying and converted the only goal of the match through Sofia Jakobsson in the opening minute of the second. Sweden won the group by five points, three of which came after Denmark elected to forfeit their match in Sweden during a dispute with their federation.
Germany’s qualification was mostly formality as evidenced by their 8-0 away win over Faroe Islands who finished bottom of Group 5 with a -52 goal difference. However Iceland were held 1-1 at home against Czech Republic. A win would have put them into the playoff.
The draw for the playoffs will be made Friday.
Marta among final three for FIFA Best
FIFA announced the final three for the FIFA Best awards which will be announced September 25 in London. There are no Americans on the list for women’s player or coach, but Orlando Pride and Brazil striker Marta is on the list. The five-time winner of the award figures to be third choice behind Olympique Lyonnais standouts Ada Hegerberg and Dszenifer Marozsan. Hegerberg’s Norway and Marozsan’s Germany both qualified for the World Cup on Tuesday although Marozsan has been out of action after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism.
Lyon were also represented in the coaching group with Reynald Pedros getting the nod. In his first season with the club he guided it to an undefeated league championship and UEFA Champions League triumph. Only a narrow loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the French Cup final kept Lyon from winning the treble for the third consecutive season.
The other coaching finalists are Ayako Takakura and Sarina Wiegman. Takakura helped Japan reach the World Cup and for good measure they defeated Australia in the final of the Asian Women’s Cup. Wiegman was at the helm for the Netherland for their popular European Championship win on home soil last summer and currently has her side in contention for Europe’s final spot in the World Cup.
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