Germany and the Netherlands on Tuesday booked their places at the UEFA Women’s Nations League finals , where they are also to fight for spots at next year’s Paris Games, but there was heartbreak for England whose hopes of competing in the Olympics were dashed, despite beating Scotland 6-0.
Germany drew 0-0 in Wales, but secured their passage thanks to Iceland’s 1-0 win over Denmark.
The Netherlands needed a 95th-minute goal from Damaris Egurrola to see them to a 4-0 win over Belgium which meant they edged England on goal difference in Group A1 after the FIFA Women’s World Cup runners-up hammered Scotland in Glasgow.
The Netherlands and Germany join France and world champions Spain in the semi-finals, which take place in February. The two finalists are to qualify for the Olympics. If France, who are guaranteed a place as hosts of the Games, reach the final, the team winning the third-place playoff would also progress.
England, who were hopeful of gaining an Olympic place for a Great Britain team which would have included their Scottish opponents, and the Netherlands went into the final round of games level on points, but with the Netherlands holding a two-goal advantage.
England quickly laid on the pressure, with Alex Greenwood and Beth Mead bracketing two goals in two minutes from Lauren James to give them a 4-0 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands were only leading 1-0 through a 34th minute goal from Lineth Beerensteyn. England compounded their position when Fran Kirby added a fifth four minutes into the second half.
At that point, England had a two-goal advantage over the Netherlands, but they then ran into some determined defense from Scotland who also went close, forcing a fine save from Mary Earps.
Beerensteyn added a second to give the Netherlands hope, but the evening changed dramatically in stoppage time.
First, Egurrola found the back of the net to give the Netherlands the advantage. That was followed by Lucy Bronze scoring a sixth for England but, even as they were celebrating, Egurrola snatched a second in Tilburg to send the Netherlands through.
Coach “Sarina [Wiegman] made sure we knew what was happening, and we knew what we were supposed to do,” Mead said. “We got the goals late on, we thought we had maybe gotten over the line, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.”
Germany were level on 12 points with Denmark in Group A3 going into the game, although their better head-to-head record meant they simply needed to match Denmark’s result against Iceland.
In the end, Denmark fell short, with Karolina Vilhjalmsdottir, who plays in the Bundesliga for Bayer 04 Leverkusen, where she is on loan from Bayern Munich, striking in the 77th minute in Viborg to give Iceland a 1-0 win.
Germany struggled to get a grip on their game against Wales and in the end were fortunate to come away with a point.
“I thought we were the better team. We had the better chances and hit the post so, overall, I’m very pleased,” Wales manager Gemma Grainger told the BBC. “It’s a real moment when you say we had the better chances against Germany.”
However, Wales finished bottom of the group with a single point and were relegated to Group B.
World champions Spain had already qualified for the finals as Group A4 winners and were missing the injured Alexia Putellas, which might have accounted for their sleepy start against Sweden.
Julia Zigiotti Olme put the visitors ahead in the first minute after non-existent defending at a corner. Salma Paralluelo leveled 10 minutes later, but more slack defense allowed Kosovare Asllani and Stina Blackstenius to put Sweden 3-1 up after half an hour.
Athenea del Castillo pulled one back for Spain, who then turned the game around with three goals in the last 12 minutes, two from Mariona Caldentey, the other from Fiamma Benitez, to win 5-3.
Group A2 winners France, who had also booked their place in the finals, earned a hard-fought 1-0 win in Portugal, thanks to Grace Geyoro scoring the winner in the third minute of additional time.
SIGNS OF CALM: After his third explanation for his absence, which has drawn the ire of fans and politicians, some critics said his latest apology seemed sincere Lionel Messi denied his absence from a match in Hong Kong two weeks ago that angered China was a political snub, but was caused by an injury. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner is idolized by fans in China, but stayed on the bench during Inter Miami’s 4-1 win in a pre-season tour match against a Hong Kong select XI on Feb. 4. A near 40,000 sellout crowd, who had paid upwards of HK$1,000 (US$128) to see the 36-year-old superstar in action, chanted “refund,” gave thumbs-down signs and booed Messi and the team’s co-owner David Beckham after the final whistle. Some nationalist politicians interpreted
A leading Australian equestrian’s buildup to a fourth Olympics was thrown into disarray yesterday after he was stood down from competition for wearing a “mankini” swimsuit during a showjumping event. Three-time Olympic medalist Shane Rose wore the skimpy fluorescent orange outfit — popularized in the movie Borat — on his horse during a competition near Sydney earlier this month where riders were encouraged to wear “extraordinary costumes.” Rose, 50, said on social media that he had been stood down by governing body Equestrian Australia (EA) while it conducts a review after receiving complaints. “I am truly sorry if I have offended anyone,” Rose
Taiwanese infielder Yu Chang (張育成) has signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and is invited to the team’s spring training camp, the team announced Tuesday. The 28-year-old, who reported to the club’s spring training facility on Tuesday, told MLB.com he had received minor league offers from 10 teams, but signed with the Rays because of the positive experience he had on the team in 2022. “I feel like people make me comfortable here -- not only like coaches, [but the] teammates and everyone here,” he told the site. Chang, who made his MLB debut in 2019, played with the
SUPERSTAR SHOWDOWN: WNBA single-season three-point record holder Ionescu said the shoot-out would show young girls and boys that ‘if you can shoot, you can shoot’ Stephen Curry on Saturday sank his last four shots from the right corner to defeat Sabrina Ionescu 29-26 in a three-point NBA-WNBA Challenge at the NBA All-Star festivities. Ionescu set the score to beat, matching the best numbers by any player in the NBA Three-Point Contest, only for Curry to rally late for the victory, then hug Ionescu as both celebrated a successful effort. “I knew I had to get hot,” Curry said of his closing run to win the challenge champion’s belt. The first-ever shoot-out of the sexes was a groundbreaking showdown between elite guards — Golden State’s Curry, the NBA’s all-time