The Netherlands beat Denmark 2-0 and Switzerland drew 2-2 in Belgium in Friday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup play-off semi-final first legs.
The play-offs, involving the four qualifying group runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third and fourth in their sections, will decide the last of Europe’s nine berths (including hosts France) for next summer’s tournament.
Netherlands v Denmark
- First-half goals from Lineth Beerensteyn and Shanice van de Sanden gave the European champions the advantage after the first leg though they hit the woodwork twice.
- The Netherlands beat Denmark twice at UEFA Women’s EURO 2017, including 4-2 in the final.
- In all, the Netherlands are on a run of seven straight wins against Denmark, most recently at the 2018 Algarve Cup.
- The Netherlands qualified for their first World Cup in 2015 via the play-offs; Denmark missed out in 2003 and 2011 via that method, having last made it in 2007, directly via their group.
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.
- Belgium are aiming to emulate Scotland in earning a World Cup debut next year, and are in their first play-off.
- Switzerland lost in the 2011 play-offs but qualified via their group four years later.
- The play-offs will be the last games 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.
Final draw (two legs, 5–13 November)
Netherlands/Denmark v Belgium/Switzerland
Already qualified from UEFA: France (hosts), England, Germany, Norway, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Sweden
Other qualifiers: Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand
Places to be filled:
3 from Africa
1 from Europe
3 from North/Central America
1 from Oceania
1 from play-off between Argentina and 4th-placed North/Central American side
Finals draw: 8 December 2018, Paris
Finals: 7 June–7 July 2019, France