FIVE MORE FOR THE WORLD CUP
In a gripping climax to the European group stage, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden and Germany all clinched their places at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, while Euro 2017 finalists Holland and Denmark were pitched into a playoff series from which only one team will reach France. The pair will play over two legs for the right to meet Belgium or Switzerland in the November Final.
England won 3-0 in Newport to end the dreams of a Welsh team that did not concede until the last 33 minutes of a 12-hour qualifying campaign.
Norway, still without star player Ada Hegerberg, who is in self-imposed exile, beat Holland 2-1 in Oslo.
Sweden, needing a draw, won 1-0 in Denmark, while Germany won 2-0 in Reykjavik to edge past Iceland but they must wait a little longer for new coach Martina VossTecklenberg. She is currently at the helm of Switzerland who lost in Scotland then drew in Poland to allow the former to qualify for the first time.
Former Denmark boss Nils Nielsen will replace her as Switzerland coach.
Sweden’s record goalscorer Lotta Schelin has retired due to injury.
Schelin, 34, scored 88 goals in 185 internationals, winning Olympic silver in 2016 and the Euro 2013 Golden Boot.
At club level, she won three Champions League titles with Lyon.
HUGE WINS FOR NEW CLUBS
The 12-0 win Manchester United achieved against Aston Villa in their first league match was soon eclipsed by another new club as Benfica thrashed Ponte de Frielas 28-0 in Portugal.
Both clubs are in the second tier, but instant promotions seem assured.
In the English top flight, Liverpool began with a 5-0 defeat at Arsenal, after which manager Neil Redfearn quit.
KVINNER WIN AGAIN
LSK Kvinner, from Lillestrom, won their fifth successive Norwegian title, wrapping up the Toppserien with five matches to spare.
DISPUTE OVER IN ITALY? MAYBE
The impasse in Italy appeared to be resolved when CONI, the country’s highest sports regulator, ruled that the national federation (FIGC) did have the right to take over the running of the top two divisions of women’s football from the amateur federation (LND).
Seeking to professionalise the sport, the leading clubs, had backed FIGC. However, LND argued that there was a conflict of interest among the adjudicators and threatened further action.
debut...Scotland (in blue) are off to the finals victorious...north Carolina Courage
dream start... manchester united
retired... lotta Schelin
impasse... italy’s Juventus