Women’s Euro 2021 Qualifying: November 2019 Group Stage Window Recap and Highlights

UEFA Women's Euro logo

The year’s final qualifying matches for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 ended in disappointment for the Republic of Ireland and Portugal, who both saw late equalizers dash their hopes of full points, as well as Spain and Wales, who were each held to scoreless draws.  Top contenders, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria all finish the year on full points, as all are yet to concede a draw or lost.

Qualifying for the 2021 Women’s Euro, which will be hosted by England, resumes in March 2020, although most of the top contenders do not restart their qualifying campaigns until April 2020.

England, was also in action this window, playing two friendlies:  First, hosting Germany at Wembley in front of a home attendance record of 77,768 on Saturday, and then an away friendly at the Czech Republic on Tuesday.


Match details and statistics for each qualifying match are available on UEFA’s website.

Qualifying Format Summary: 

  • Nine groups of five or six teams
  • Standard mini-league round-robin format
  • All nine Group Winners qualify for the final tournament
  • The Top Three Runners-Up also qualify for the final tournament
  • To rank the nine Runners-Up, for Groups A and B, which have six teams, the results against the worst team in each of those groups are dropped
  • The remaining six Runners-Up are paired into home-and-home play-offs
  • The three winners of those play-offs qualify for the final tournament
  • Host England is auto-qualified

Previous Coverage:

Also see Roster Round-Up: November 2019 International Window for notes on this window’s call-ups by the top teams in UEFA and elsewhere.


GROUP A
Teams:  Estonia, Kosovo, Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey
Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) Netherlands, (2) Russia {no change}

Friday, November 8th
Turkey 0, Netherlands 8

Friday, November 12th
Netherlands 4, Slovenia 1

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Netherlands (6-0-0, 18 points, +25 goal difference)
2. Slovenia (2-0-3, 6 pts, +4 g.d.)
3. Russia (2-0-1, 6 pts, +3 g.d.)
4. Kosovo (2-0-1, 6 pts, -3 g.d.)
5. Estonia (0-1-3, 1 pt, -12 g.d.)
6. Turkey (0-1-4, 1 pt, -18 g.d.)

After previously troubling the Netherlands in October, #53 Slovenia once again scored first on the 2019 Women’s World Cup runner-up, this time on a poorly defended long free kick that was headed in by defender Kaja Eržen who was left unmarked by Dominique Bloodworth.  The guest’s lead would not last long as a few minutes later, Sherida Spitse equalized from the penalty spot after Jackie Groenen was fouled on a corner kick.  The Netherlands would take the lead for good in the second half, once again from the penalty spot, and once again via the foot of Spitse.  Vivianne Miedema who earned the Netherland’s second penalty, added two insurance goals to give the OranjeLeeuwinnen a 4:1 home victory.

On Friday, in their earlier match of the window, the Netherlands comfortably defeated Turkey 8-nil, via a game-winner from Shanice van De Sanden, plus a hat trick from Daniëlle van de Donk and braces from Spitse and Miedema.  The highlights for this match are well-worth watching, as most of the Netherlands’ goals were scored via flowing open play.

Turkey–Netherlands Highlights:

Netherlands–Slovenia Highlights:

What’s Next:  No group matches are scheduled* until March 2020, when Kosovo hosts Slovenia in the group’s lone match of the window.

In April, the Netherlands, who have four matches left, plays at Kosovo for the first time and then hosts Estonia, whom they previously defeated 7:0 away  in August.  After that, the Netherlands does not play qualifying matches until the final window in September, when they travel to Russia, and then wrap-up at home with Kosovo.

Likely group runner-up Russia has seven matches left.  Their next scheduled qualifying matches are both at home in April, first against Turkey, and then against Slovenia, whom Russia previously defeated 1:0 on the road, back in August.  In June, Russia has a short trip to Estonia, before playing Kosovo at a neutral site.  Then, in September, Russia hosts the Netherlands before traveling to Turkey for their final group qualifying match of the cycle.


GROUP B
Teams:  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Georgia, Israel, Italy, Malta
Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) Italy, (2) Denmark (toss-up) {no change}

Thursday, November 7th
Malta 1, Israel 1

Friday, November 8th
Italy 6, Georgia 0

Tuesday, November 12th
Italy 5, Malta 0
Denmark 14, Georgia 0
Israel 1, Bosnia and Herzegovina 3

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Italy (6-0-0, 18 points, +17 goal difference)
2. Denmark (5-0-0, 15 pts, +29 g.d.)
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (3-0-2, 9 pts, +6 g.d.)
4. Israel (0-1-3, 1 pt, -6 g.d.)
5. Malta (0-1-4), 1 pt, -17 g.d.)
6. Georgia (0-0-5), 0 pts, -29 g.d.)

Italy, after finally getting their first dominating win of the cycle, with a 6-nil home win over Georgia on Friday, got a reality check on Tuesday when they saw the double-digit final scoreline of Denmark‘s 14-nil home rout over the same team.

In that rout, seven different players scored for Denmark, including 19 year-old Sofia Svava who netted her first senior international goal.  Both Stine Larsen and Pernille Harder had hat-tricks, while NWSL veteran Nadia Nadim, who currently plays for PSG in France, scored at least twice.  As I noted on Twitter, UEFA’s website (still) credits Nadim with three goals, while the DBU’s website database lists one of those goals as an own goal (dbu.dk match report, dbu.dk profile for Nadim).  In the match, Denmark had 52 total attempts, including 24 on-target.  Georgia was at full strength for the entire match, as they had only received one yellow card.

For their next qualifying match in April 2020, Italy will be without midfielder Manuela Giugliano, who was ejected from Italy’s home match against Malta on Tuesday, after receiving her second yellow card of the match in the 71st minute.  By that point, Italy had a 4-nil lead, which was extended in stoppage time by 19 year-old A.S. Roma midfielder Giada Greggi, who scored in just her second match for Le Azzurre.

 

What’s Next:  Denmark and Italy return to action in April 2020.  During that window, both teams will face their only serious competition for the top two spots, Bosnia & Herzegovina.  Two wins in those matches for Denmark and Italy will all but eliminate Bosnia & Herzegovina from contention.  Also in April, Italy hosts Israel while Denmark travels to Malta.  In June, Denmark hosts Israel, before traveling to Italy for what is shaping up to be the first leg of an unofficial home-and-home play-off to determine the group’s winner.  The return match in Denmark is three months later, in September 2020.


GROUP C
Teams:  Belarus, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Wales
Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) Norway, (2) Wales {no change}

Friday, November 8th
Norway 6, Northern Ireland 0

Tuesday, November 12th
Northern Ireland 0, Wales 0

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Norway (4-0-0, 12 points, +30 goal difference)
2. Wales (2-2-0, 8 pts, +7 g.d.)
3. Belarus (1-0-2, 3 pts, -1 g.d.)
4. Northern Ireland (0-2-2, 2 pts, -12 g.d.)
5. Faroe Islands (0-0-3, 0 pt, -25 g.d.)

On Tuesday, Northern Ireland, for the second time this cycle, denied Wales a victory.  But, this time there would be no last-gasp equalizer, or any score, for that matter.  Wales, who were without forward Natasha Harding, had a few solid chances, but also allowed a couple chances, primarily due to some less-than-solid goalkeeping.  For extended highlights and a detailed write-up of this match, check out this BBC Sport article (bbc.com).

Earlier in the window, Norway finished the year with its second 6-nil victory over Northern Ireland, this time in Stavanger, Norway.  Lisa-Marie Utland and Caroline Graham Hansen both netted braces, while Guro Reiten and Ingrid Syrstad Engen each added a goal.

 

What’s Next:  Wales’ midfielder Jess Fishlock, who tore her ACL on June 28th in NWSL action, could play in her first qualifying matches of this cycle as early as April (ReignFC.com).  Fishlock’s first match back could be at home against the Faroe Islands, in what should be as easy victory for Wales.  However, for their other match in April, they host Norway.  In June, Wales plays Belarus for the second time, and then travels to Norway in September for their critical final match.

Norway, with four wins in four matches, is halfway home to earning an automatic qualifying slot.  As noted above, the Norwegians still have to play Wales twice, including for their final match, which is likely to be much more important for Wales than it is for the home team, Norway.


GROUP D
Teams:  Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Moldova, Poland, Spain
Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) Spain, (2) Czech Republic or Poland (toss-up) {no change}

Thursday, November 7th
Azerbaijan 0, Czech Republic 4

Sunday, November 10th
Moldova 3, Azerbaijan 1

Tuesday, November 12th
Poland 0, Spain 0

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Spain (2-1-0, 7 points, +8 goal difference)
2. Czech Republic (2-0-1, 6 pts, +7 g.d.)
3. Moldova (1-0-1, 3 pts, -5 g.d.)
4. Poland (0-1-0, 1 pt, 0 g.d.)
5. Azerbaijan (0-0-3, o pt, -10 g.d.)

On Tuesday, #29 Poland gave #13 Spain a lump of coal in the form of a scoreless away draw for the Spaniards.  The result was not that surprising, as Poland had defeated Spain 3:0 earlier this year, in the Algarve Cup.

Earlier, the Czech Republic claimed a 4-nil away victory over Azerbaijan, with 19 year-old Juventus striker Andrea Stašková and 20 year-old Kamila Dubcová netting the last two goals for the guests.  The Czech Republic also hosted struggling England in a friendly on Tuesday, losing 2:3 on a late Leah Williamson header (highlights at the bottom of this article).

Sunday saw one of the more interesting lower table matches this cycle, as Hungarian referee Katalin Sipos issued 11 yellow cards and 4 red cards (3 indirect) during the match between Moldova and Azerbaijan.  Both teams ended the match on 9 players, with the home side, Moldova, playing down a player for over half of the match.  Yet, Moldova still won, thanks to two penalty kicks converted by their goalkeeper, 25 year-old Natalia Munteanu.

 

Azerbaijan – Czech Republic Highlights:

Moldova–Azerbaijan Highlights

What’s Next:  When Spain plays their next qualifying match in April 2020, they could find themselves nominally in second place, behind Poland who has two matches against minnows Moldova and Azerbaijan in March.

Poland then faces those same teams in April and then travels to Spain in June.  Prior to that, Spain hosts Moldova and the Czech Republic in April.  In June, the Czech Republic gets their second shots at Azerbaijan and Moldova.

Poland and the Czech Republic both end the cycle with facing each other twice in September, due to an early match being rescheduled because of food sickness in the Czech camp.


GROUP E
Teams:  Albania, Cyprus, Finland, Portugal, Scotland
Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) Scotland, (2) Finland or Portugal (toss-up) {no change}

Thursday, November 7th
Finland 4, Cyprus 0

Friday, November 8th
Albania 0, Scotland 5

Tuesday, November 12th
Portugal 1, Finland 1

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Finland (3-1-0, 10 points, +14 goal difference)
2. Scotland (2-0-0, 6 pts, +13 g.d.)
3. Portugal (1-1-0), 4 pts, +1 g.d.)
4. Cyprus (0-0-2), 0 pt, -12 g.d.)
5. Albania (0-0-4, 0 pt, -16 g.d.)

While only playing one match this window, Scotland got two welcomed results:  First a solid 5-nil away victory over Albania, and then a 1:1 draw between group rivals Portugal and Finland.

In the latter match, Portugal looked to have a narrow 1:0 home victory until a craftily struck 90th minute corner kick by Finland sailed through the hands of 20 year-old Portuguese keeper Inês Pereira and deflected into goal off the knee of Finnish forward Linda Sällström.  Overall, Pereira had a solid match, making three saves in rainy match with a soggy  pitch.

Portugal had a few solid chances to extend their lead, yet only managed two shots on target, with one of those being a converted penalty by captain Cláudia Neto.

Earlier in the window, Scotland, who were without Kim Little due to a day-to-day injury (she did travel with the team), defeated Albania 5-nil via goals from five different players, including 22 year-old defender Hannah Godfrey in her first senior international cap.  Also unavailable for the match was Jen Beattie, while left outside back Emma Mitchell returned for her first appearance in over a year.

For more on Scotland:

Albania–Scotland Highlights:

Portugal–Finland Highlights:

What’s Next:  Portugal has a tough April 2020, facing both Finland and Scotland on the road, while those latter teams both travel to Cyprus for what should be easy away victories.  In June, Scotland and Finland face each other for the first time in the group, while Portugal has back-to-back matches against Cyprus, first on the road, then at home in Portugal.  Finally, in September, Scotland travels to Portugal and hosts Finland in what could be the group decider.  Meanwhile, Portugal finishes up at home against Albania.


GROUP F
Teams:  Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Slovakia, Sweden
Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) Sweden, (2) Iceland) {no change}

Friday, November 8th
Slovakia 0, Hungary 0

Tueday, November 12th
Hungary 4, Latvia 0

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Sweden (3-0-0, 9 points, +15 goal difference)
2. Iceland (3-0-0, 9 pts, +10 g.d.)
3. Hungary (1-1-2, 4 pts, -4 g.d.)
4. Slovakia (1-1-2, 4 pts, -7 g.d.)
5. Latvia (0-0-4, 0 pt, -14 g.d.)

Neither Sweden nor Iceland were in official action this month, although Sweden did play the United States in an away friendly, which the USWNT won 3:2.

USA-Sweden Highlights:

What’s Next:  All teams in the group are off until April 2020, when both Iceland and Sweden play Hungary, while Iceland also travels to Slovakia.  In June, Iceland hosts Sweden in the first of their two decisive match-ups.

Also in the June window, Iceland and Sweden play Latvia and Slovakia, respectively.  Then, in September, Sweden hosts Latvia, before finishing at home with Iceland.


GROUP G
Teams:  Austria, France, Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, Serbia
Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) France, (2) Austria {no change}

Friday, November 8th
North Macedonia 0, Austria 3

Saturday, November 9th
France 6, Serbia 0

Tuesday, November 12th
Austria 9, Kazakhstan 0

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Austria (4-0-0, 12 points, +16 goal differential)
2. France (2-0-0, 6 pts +9 g.d.)
3. Serbia (2-0-2, 6 pts, +2 g.d.)
4. North Macedonia (1-0-3, 3 pts, -9 g.d.)
5. Kazakhstan (0-0-4, 0 pt, -18 g.d.)

Amel Majri was the hat-trick heroine for France in their 6-nil home victory over Serbia, as she scored twice before the fifteen minute mark and added a second half goal for her first triple in international soccer.  Grace Geyoro, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Viviane Asseyi also netted goals for a French squad that was without the services of Eugénie Le Sommer (thigh), Amandine Henry, and Kadidiatou Diani.   In the 31st minute, Geyoro had the strike of the night when she volleyed home a lofted defensive header that the struck the inside of the right post just below the crossbar (in the below video, sequence starts at 1:11).

France’s main competition, Austria, also remains perfect, earning two shutout victories this window. First a 3:0 away win at North Macedonia, and a 9-nil rout of Kazakhstan at home.  In these two matches, 20 year-old midfielder Julia Hickelsberger-Füller netted her first goal of the cycle at North Macedonia, then struck four times at home against Kazakhstan.  Forward Nicole Billa also added a triple in Austria’s home victory.

France–Serbia Highlights:

Austria–Kazakhstan Highlights:

What’s Next:  In April, France hosts North Macedonia before traveling to Austria for the first of two back-to-back group deciders.  The second decisive match comes in June when Austria travels to France before returning home to host Serbia.  France ends the June window with what should be a comfortable home victory over Kazakhstan.  In September, France ends qualifying with road matches against Serbia and North Macedonia, while Austria travels east to Kazakhstan for their only match of the final window.


GROUP H
Teams:  Belgium, Croatia, Lithuania, Romania, Switzerland
Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) Switzerland, (2) Belgium (toss-up) {no change}

Friday, November 8th
Romania 3, Lithuania 0
Croatia 1, Belgium 4

Tuesday, November 12th
Switzerland 6, Romania 0
Belgium 6, Lithuania 0

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Belgium (4-0-0, 12 points, +15 goal differential, 17 goals scored)
2. Switzerland (4-0-0, 12 pts, +15 g.d., 15 g.s.)
3. Romania (1-0-2, 3 pts, -4 g.d.)
4. Croatia (1-0-3, 3 pts, -19 g.d.)
5. Lithuania (0-0-5, 0 pts, -17 g.d.)

After the most recent FIFA Women’s Rankings in September, Switzerland and Belgium remained separated by just two points, although Belgium (1817, +4) leapfrogged Switzerland (1815, no change) to claim the 18th overall rank in the world and 11th in UEFA.  Through four matches in qualifying, both squads are similarly neck-and-neck, as each is on a full 12 points and has a plus 15 goal differential.

Belgium finished the year with a five-goal breakout performance from 22 year-old midfielder Tine De Caigny in the Red Flames’ 6-nil home victory over Lithuania.  De Caigny also scored in Belgium’s earlier match of the window, a 4:1 away win at Croatia.

In Switzerland’s only match of the window, Ramona Bachmann netted a hat-trick against Romania, scoring twice in the first half and adding another goal in the second half after Romania were down to ten players due to a red card against defender for Maria Ficzay for a point-blank handball in the six-yard box.  Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, most recently with the Portland Thorns (and since released), deftly converted the ensuing penalty kick.  Switzerland’s final goal came via 17 year-old defender Svenja Fölmli.

Switzerland–Romania Highlights:

What’s Next:  In April, Belgium hosts Switzerland in their first head-to-head battle of the group stage.  Then in June, the teams travel to Lithuania and Romania, respectively. And, before their final head-to-head match-up in September, Switzerland travels to Croatia and Belgium hosts Romania.


GROUP I
Teams:  Germany, Greece, Montenegro, Republic of Ireland, Ukraine
Original Expected 1-2 Finish:  (1) Germany, (2) Ukraine or Ireland (toss-up)
Updated Expected Finish:  (1) Germany, (2) Ireland or Ukraine (toss-up, but advantage Ireland)
Potential Dark Horse:  Greece (added after November window)

Wednesday, November 6th
Montenegro 0, Greece 4

Tuesday, November 12th
Greece 1, Republic of Ireland 1

Group Standings (wins-draws-losses):
1. Germany (4-0-0, 12 points, +31 goal difference)
2. Republic of Ireland (2-1-0, 7 pts, +3 g.d.)
3. Greece (1-1-1, 4 pts, -1 g.d.)
4. Montenegro (0-0-3, 0 pt, -16 g.d.)
5. Ukraine (0-0-3, 0 pt, -17 g.d.)

After a dramatic 1:1 home draw against 32nd-ranked the Republic of Ireland, and a solid 4-nil away win against Montenegro*, a potential dark horse for the group’s runner-up spot has emerged:  Greece, who are currently ranked 66th in the world and 34th in UEFA.

*Earlier in the cycle, Ireland only managed a 2:0 home win against Montenegro, who is Greece’s and Ireland’s only common opponent so far this cycle.

After a 13th minute Amber Barrett score, Ireland maintained a narrow 1-nil lead for almost eighty minutes until Anastasia Spyridonidou’s soft one-time volley of a looping header flew past the out-stretched glove of Ireland goalkeeper Marie Hourihan.

Neither Germany who traveled to Wembley for a historic friendly against the Lionesses (highlights at the bottom of this article) or winless Ukraine were in official action this month.

 

What’s Next:  With the runner-up race now potentially a three-way battle, every qualifying window next year will feature significant head-to-head fixtures.   In March, first up for both Ireland and Greece are each other, again.  Then, in April, Ireland travels to Germany and Greece plays Ukraine for the first time in the group.  June is a make-or-break month for Ukraine, as they face both Ireland and Greece for the final time this cycle.

March 5th:  Republic of Ireland vs Greece
April 10th:  Germany vs. Republic of Ireland
April 13th:  Ukraine vs. Greece
June 4th:  Ukraine vs. Republic of Ireland
June 8th:  Greece vs. Ukraine
September 18th:  Germany vs. Greece
September 21st:  Republic of Ireland vs. Germany


RIGHT TRACK / OFF-TRACK / WRONG TRACK

A quick summary of which of the top twenty-plus teams are on course to qualifying for the 2021 Women’s Euro, based on their performances so far.  As with previous recaps, I have limited these lists to teams that have played (at least) two qualifying matches.

Right Track:  Netherlands (A), Russia (A), Italy (B), Denmark (B), Norway (C), Spain (D), Czech Republic (D), Scotland (E), Finland (E), Portugal (E), Sweden (F), Iceland (F), France (G) Austria (G), Switzerland (H), Belgium (H), Germany (I), Republic of Ireland (I)

Although Spain (Group D) and the Republic of Ireland (Group I) both dropped points in away matches this window, they are still fully in control of their destinies, with some room to spare.

After six matches, the Netherlands (Group A) are on full points and more than halfway home.  Having already played presumptive runner-up Russia once and Pot 3 team Slovenia twice, Sarina Wiegman’s squad has one of the easiest remaining schedules of the Pot 1 teams.

In Group B, Denmark continues to impress, while Italy just continues to win.  Both teams end the year on full points, though Italy played an additional match this window, giving them the nominal group lead.

With Wales once again dropping points this window, Norway (Group C) has some extra breathing room after another solid win this month.

After losing by four goals to Spain at home in October, the Czech Republic (Group D) rebounded with an away win at Azerbaijan to stay on track.  However, with the Spain–Poland draw, that track got slightly more narrow.

After having October off, Scotland resumed their Group E qualification campaign with a solid away win against Albania, giving them full points after two matches.  While the draw between Finland and Portugal helped neither side in their attempts to avoid the Group E runner-up spot, it does open up more opportunities for Scotland to claim the group’s top spot.

After a difficult away win in October, France (Group G) are back to looking like France, even without star players Le Sommer and Henry on the pitch.  Their 6-nil home performance against Serbia gives France their second win in as many matches and a debut on the Right Track List.

France’s group rival Austria continue to win, this time with a solid away win at North Macedonia and a dominating 9-nil home rout of Kazakhstan

Down in Group H, both Belgium and Switzerland are halfway home with four wins each and at least six points clear of their nearest competition.

The remaining Right Track teams, Russia (A), Sweden (F), Iceland (F), and Germany (I), were not in official action this month.

Off-Track:  Wales (C), Ukraine (I)

Even with their injury woes, it is doubtful that Wales (Group C) expected to share two draws with Home Nations rival Northern Ireland.  While Wales still has a good probability of claiming the runner-up spot ahead of Belarus, they are unlikely to earn an automatic qualification spot as a Top Three runner-up due to twice dropping points against Northern Ireland.

Although Ukraine (Group I), who were not in action this month, are mathematically still in a good position to claim the runner-up spot in Group I behind Germany, after last month’s away loss to the Republic of Ireland, the emergence of Greece as a possible contender has to give Ukraine a renewed sense of urgency.

Wrong Track:  None

Not Listed: Poland (D)

Due to a rescheduled match against the Czech Republic, Poland only played their first group stage match during this window.  However, their scoreless draw against Pot 1 team Spain gives them an advantage over the Czech Republic, who have already lost to Spain this cycle.


BONUS:  HOST WATCH

During this international window, England hosted Germany for a historic friendly at Wembley on Saturday, and then traveled to the Czech Republic for a snowy friendly on Tuesday.

England 1, Germany 2:  In a home attendance record, 77,768 watched the Lionesses host two-time world champions Germany at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, November 9th.  Germany scored before  the ten minute mark off the head of Alexandra Popp after delightful combination play which was highlighted by a Dzsenifer Marozsán pass.  Just before halftime, Ellen White, in her first game back since the Women’s World Cup due to knee surgery in August, scored the equalizer.  However, she may have been just beyond the offside line on the assist pass.  Eight minutes earlier, England had a chance to take the lead when Beth Mead was tripped in the box by goalkeeper Merle Frohms.  However, Nikita Parris was once again denied from the penalty spot.  After being the more dangerous side in the second half, Germany were finally rewarded when Marozsán collected the ball in the center circle and found Klara Bühl on the left flank, who dribbled several steps, then unleashed a left-footed grounder into the far corner as England goalkeeper Mary Earps helplessly looked on.

Not shown in the highlights was a dangerous challenge in the 30th minute by Sara Doorsoun on Beth Mead, which looked more like a karate move than a soccer move.  Yet Stéphanie Frappart, who refereed this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup final, saw fit to only issue a yellow card.

(TheFA.com match report, DFB match write-up, DFB match report, TheGuardian.com live updates, TheGuardian.com match write-up)

England–Germany Highlights:

Czech Republic 2, England 3.  The Lionesses needed a late goal from an unlikely source to end 2019 on a positive note in snowy České Budějovice:  22 year-old central defender Leah Williamson, who started in place of Steph Houghton (planned rest).  Offensive weapons Ellen White (planned rest) and Jodie Taylor (ankle injury) were also unavailable.  (See this month’s roster round-up for more notes on England’s squad.)

The 28th-ranked home side proved themselves to be a challenge for Phil Neville’s squad, as Czech Republic scored first, via the left foot of Thereza Szewieczková in the 15th minute.  However, Bethany England responded with a side-volley equalizer, and Beth Mead netted a go-ahead goal, all within five minutes of the home side’s opening goal.  England’s lead was short-lived, as Szewieczková fired home a long-range shot seven minutes later for her second goal of the night.

For almost an hour, the sides remain deadlocked, until the 86th minute:  An English corner was headed to the top of the box, where Leah Williamson settled the ball with a touch, then stepped back and unleashed a low grounder that deflected off a Czech defender’s foot and skipped past the diving goalkeeper, just inside the left post.  This was Williamson’s first international goal in 14 appearances for England.  (TheFA.com match report, Czech FA write-up)

Czech Republic – England Highlights:

England has not yet announced any scheduled friendlies for 2020.