2019 Women's World Cup Qualification: A Welsh rollercoaster ride

2019 Women's World Cup Qualification: A Welsh rollercoaster ride

The battle for the guaranteed World Cup spot heats up

chloe-leadbeater
Chloe Leadbeater

It looks as if the race for the automatic qualification spot will be decided at the Wales vs England game in August or in England's final game in Kazakhstan. Both picked up some crucial points in their quest as the latest round of drama unfolded.

Wales 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina have been a stubborn side to break down for not just Wales but England before so this match wasn't a guaranteed win. The last time these two met this campaign, Wales just managed to scrape through with a 1-0 win, their third of the campaign so far then.

This game was equally as tough with Bosnia having a chance early on through Merjema Medic but Sophie Ingle stopped her having a go. Jess Fishlock had a bit of a scare when she was caught on her knee by studs but she carried on. Not much happened in the first half but the second half saw Wales really step up. They could have taken the lead through Helen Ward. She was brought down in the box but saw her penalty saved. 

Wales had the rub of the green later on when previous goalscorer Kayleigh Green put the Dragons ahead and gave them the crucial three points they needed to lead the group.

Russia 1-3 England

That Wales win put England down to second, so they needed to keep their 100% record going in order to boost their chances of qualification. Much had happened between the 6-0 thrashing of the Russians in Prenton Park and now. The Russians had also improved since that match in September 2017 but the Lionesses looked dominant in this match.

They enjoyed some early possession trying to get a feel for the playing conditions. The Lionesses seemed to be utilising the wings with the likes of Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly making the runs up either side. The first chance came to Nikita Parris from a Fran Kirby cross but Parris headed wide as well as being adjudged to be offside. Russia had a chance themselves with Ekaterina Pantyukhina just kicking it over.

It didn't take too long before England found the breakthrough. Toni Duggan swung the ball into Parris who just managed to get ahead of her marker and head it in. Jill Scott was the next one to use her head after a cross from Bronze and a well timed run into the box. Unfortunately for England, they conceded their first goal in the qualifying campaign when Elena Danilova took advantage of the ball not being cleared and kept up the pattern of headed goals.

Jill Scott ensured the two goal cushion was back when the ball was played in by Keira Walsh. Scott bucked the trend and used her feet rather than her head to score this time round. The second half was fairly quiet and no more goals were scored. That sent the Lionesses back to the summit of the group.

Wales 3-0 Russia

Keeping up with who leads this group is like a rollercoaster ride with Wales and England switching positions each time. Wales topped the group then went down to second and reached the summit with a comprehensive win over the Russians.

Wales had clearly been observing what had happened in the previous game. There was a fair few chances for both sides but Wales looked to be dominating. Whilst there was chances, as in Wales' previous match, the first half saw no goals.

Once again, it was the second half where Wales stepped up a level. Moments after the kick off, Kayleigh Green put Wales ahead after some blocked chances. She is in such great form when it comes for scoring for her country and she was at it again. Elvira Todura had come rushing out of goal trying to put her off but she dinked it over her first time after a pass from Helen Ward and into the net to double the lead. Natasha Harding got in on the action, made it 3-0 and put the game to bed.

Wales return to the summit of the group with one game left to play. They have guaranteed second place which they have not done before. England, who are one point behind, have two games left. The Wales vs England match in August really could decide the fate of either team and their World Cup qualification chances. That will be a match you won't want to miss.

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