Still early days in UEFA World Cup qualification but some teams across Europe have already began to pick up steam in their respective groups that could stand them well further down the line.
Bosnia and Herzegovina got off of the mark in their first match of qualification with a dominant display in Astana, Alma Kamerić’s second minute goal enough to have the hosts on the back foot from the off. Milena Nikolić continued her fine scoring record for the visitors with her gambit after the hour to ease the pressure and see Bosnia easily past Kazakhstan who remain pointless after two games.
A month after their bruising loss in Birkenhead, Russia went back to work with high hopes of eventually finishing second in Group 1. A dominant ninety minutes for the hosts had Wales well under pressure throughout and unable to really pose any questions, however with some sloppy finishing the Russians failed to get the better of Laura O'Sullivan and were held scoreless in St. Petersburg.
Scotland completed a useful double over low ranked Belarus and Albania, firstly coming from behind to squeeze past the hosts in Minsk, Jane Ross’s equaliser three minutes after Anastasia Kharlanova enough to settle the Scots. The team on top throughout, the visitors were handed a boost when Anna Kozyupa put the ball past Natalia Voskobovich not long after the hour to give Scotland the lead that saw them through to their first qualification win.
Back in action five days later, Scotland looked as confident in Paisley against an Albania team currently ranked 73 in the world. Lavdie Begolli’s own goal half-way through the first-half enough to see them take the lead before Fiona Brown bagged her first senior goal for Scotland, turning the ball home after Chloe Arthur had cannoned the woodwork.
The hosts didn’t let up after the break and Ross soon made it three, Claire Emslie on hand to add a fourth just two minutes later the rout capped off by substitute Lisa Evans just seven minutes after her introduction. Whilst the match will have little bearing on the look of the group come next September it remains a step in the right direct for Scotland who are still adjusting to life under Shelly Kerr.
Mirroring their away win against Northern Ireland last time out, the Republic of Ireland made it two wins from two with a 2-0 win in Senec. Denise O'Sullivan’s low first-half strike was doubled by an own goal by Jana Vojteková ten minutes before the break as Slovakia gave as good as they got across the pitch, though the hosts finished with nothing to show for their hard work. Two goals to the good, the visitors spurned the chance to make it three when Ruesha Littlejohn missed from the spot three minutes after coming on, the greater test awaiting RoI next month.
In their first meeting since the opening match of this summer’s Euros, both the Netherlands and Norway looked considerably off the pace, both sluggish and sloppy across the pitch for the majority of the match. Maren Mjelde’s weak second-half penalty endemic of the poor football on show, the opening goal delayed in traffic as it finally arrived three minutes into stoppage time. Vivianne Miedema’s hopeful ball forward enough to slip past Jackie Groenen and Maria Thorisdottir and bounce into the far side of the net, just beyond the reach of Ingrid Hjelmseth.