The Netherlands took Europe’s last berth in the FIFA Women’s World Cup after beating Switzerland 4-1 on aggregate in the play-off finals.
The play-offs, involving the four qualifying group runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third and fourth in their sections, started in October with the Netherlands beating Denmark and Switzerland seeing off Belgium. After then defeating Switzerland, the European champions will join hosts France, England, Germany, Norway, Italy, Scotland, Spain and Sweden plus 15 other qualifiers in the 8 December draw.
First leg: Netherlands 3-0 Switzerland (Utrecht)
Second leg: Switzerland 1-1 Netherlands (Schaffhausen)
Netherlands win 4-1 on aggregate
- After the home side dominated the first half of the opening leg but could not break the deadlock, Sherida Spitse gave the Netherlands the lead early in the second period with a free-kick.
- Lieke Martens doubled the Dutch lead in the 71st minute after being set up by Shanice van de Sanden, and Vivianne Miedema then made it three.
- The first leg was watched by a capacity crowd of 23,750, a record for any European women’s play-off, the tickets sold in less than 30 minutes.
- Switzerland were missing injured Lara Dickenmann and suspended Ramona Bachmann, though the Chelsea forward returned for the second leg.
- It was for a foul on Bachmann nine minutes into the return that Anouk Dekker was sent off for the Netherlands but early in the second half Miedema struck for an away goal with an individual effort from just outside the box.
- Coumba Sow came off the bench to level on the night for Switzerland but for the second World Cup running, the Netherlands have qualified via the play-offs.
- The second leg was the last game in charge of Switzerland for Martina Voss-Tecklenberg, who will go on to coach her native Germany. Nils Nielsen, who led Denmark to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 final, will take over on 1 December.
Netherlands v Denmark
- First-half goals from Lineth Beerensteyn and Van de Sanden gave the European champions the advantage after the first leg though they hit the woodwork twice.
- Beerensteyn was twice on target in the second leg, her seventh-minute away goal coming just after Nadia Nadim had converted a penalty, and she struck again just before the end. That was enough to ensure the Netherlands saw off the side they beat in the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 final.
Belgium v Switzerland
- Janice Cayman gave Belgium an early lead in the first leg. Substitute Alisha Lehmann equalised in the 55th minute, the 19-year-old’s first senior international goal, but Laura Deneve made it 2-1 on the hour. However, with three minutes left, West Ham United’s Lehmann struck again.
- Géraldine Reuteler, who played with Lehmann at July’s Women’s U19 EURO in Switzerland, scored 23 minutes into the second leg for what proved an invaluable goal. Tine De Caigny levelled on the night with 13 minutes left but Belgium’s hopes of a first World Cup appearance are over.
Already qualified from UEFA: France (hosts), England, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Sweden
Other qualifiers: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, United States (holders)
Places to be filled:
3 from Africa
1 from Oceania
1 from play-off between Argentina and Panama
Finals draw: 18:00CET, 8 December, La Seine Musicale, Paris
Finals: 7 June–7 July, France