Women's Euro 2022 qualifying -
Women’s Euro 2022 qualifying: Wales, Scotland beaten but boost for Northern Ireland
Wales second in Group C and in pole position for play-off spot but Northern Ireland have game in hand; Scotland suffer narrow defeat to Finland
Wales’ hopes of qualifying for Women’s Euro 2022 suffered a blow with a 1-0 home defeat to Norway in Cardiff.
Frida Maanum’s 61st-minute shot from the edge of the box proved decisive and guaranteed Norway top spot in Group C.
Jayne Ludlow’s side had lost 1-0 to Norway in Oslo last month and home goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan was brought into early action by the slick visitors.
Maanum’s goal was deserved on the balance of play, but Wales finished strongly and Jess Fishlock twice came close to scoring an equaliser.
Second-placed Wales finish their campaign at home to Belarus next month.
They have a three-point advantage in the race for a play-off spot, but third-placed Northern Ireland have two home games left against Belarus and the Faroe Islands.
Scotland lose perfect record
Scotland lost their 100 per cent record in Women’s Euro 2022 qualifying following a 1-0 defeat to Finland in Helsinki.
Eveliina Summanen scored a 49th-minute winner from a Finland corner.
Scotland had won their three previous games in the competition and Martha Thomas almost opened the scoring in a competitive first half.
Erin Cuthbert also went close before the break but Summanen’s strike forced Scotland to chase the game.
Ria Oling nearly doubled Finland’s lead but Scotland continued to push and Leanne Crichton’s half-volley was superbly saved by home goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela.
Jane Ross’ header agonisingly cannoned off the crossbar in stoppage time as Finland – having played a game more than Scotland – extended their lead at the top of Group E to four points.
Northern Ireland boost chances
Northern Ireland boosted their qualifying hopes with a 1-0 victory against Belarus in Minsk.
The visitors closed the gap on second-placed Wales despite having goalkeeper Jackie Burns sent off in the first half for bringing down Anastasia Shcherbachenia with the Belarus captain through on goal.
But Northern Ireland’s 10 players took the lead three minutes before the break when Rachel Furness headed home.
Northern Ireland trail Wales by three points but have a game in hand.
Who has qualified so far?
• England (hosts)
• Netherlands (holders)
The group winners and the three runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their sections will join hosts England in the final tournament.
The other six runners-up will play off in April for the remaining three berths in the 16-team finals.