A massive week of international women’s football was highlighted by the opening to 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO qualifying. Thirteen months of qualifying matches will see 15 successful nations join hosts Netherlands in the newly-expanded tournament. Across the Atlantic there were yet more milestones for Carli Lloyd and her world champion USA team-mates. *FIFA.com *looks at all the action from a busy week.
*Stars and Stripes shine amid a goal deluge *
USA, and in particular the increasingly talismanic Carli Lloyd, continued their goalscoring form this week with 5-0 and 8-0 wins over CONCACAF colleagues Haiti. Lloyd, incredibly, netted hat-tricks in both games with her other international treble this year famously coming in the opening half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final™ against Japan in July. USA's first match against Haiti was also notable for the maiden international goal from NWSL top-scorer Crystal Dunn, who nabbed another in the second match. There were impressive feats off the field too, with record crowds in attendance at the matches played in Detroit and Birmingham. The world champions are likely to have a far tougher test when they host Brazil in a two-match series next month.
UEFA Women’s EURO
*Big guns fire early
*Holders Germany and 2013 UEFA Women’s EURO hosts Sweden both commenced with two victories in the opening set of qualifiers, while England, Norway, France and Italy each won their respective opening matches. Germany led the way in trademark fashion with a relentless 12-0 win over neighbours Hungary on Friday, where Pauline Bremer grabbed a treble in the team's first competition match since the retirement of star striker Celia Sasic. It was a much different contest in Zagreb four days later as Germany needed a lone goal from Alexandra Popp to see off a stubborn Croatia. England were the other big victors routing Estonia 8-0 in Tallinn, with Danielle Carter grabbing a hat-trick on debut for the Canada 2015 third-place getters.
Challengers take aim
Austria and Finland both started in perfect fashion by recording successive wins. Finland are the early pace-setters in their group having snared a tough 1-0 win over Montenegro, before a crucial 2-0 victory against the ever-improving Republic of Ireland. Austria are also top of their group thanks to a 2-0 win over Kazakhstan, followed by a 3-0 triumph over a disappointing Wales. Prolific Scotland striker Kim Little returned from another impressive season at Seattle Reign to score a hat-trick and help her side to a 3-0 victory in Slovenia, with the Scots seeking redemption for an agonising play-off exit last time.
*Tune-ups and tough contests *There was plenty of friendly matches across the globe as national teams made the most of the international window. Notably, Spain started life under new coach Jorge Vilda by winning 3-1 and 2-1 in China PR, who have announced former France mentor Bruno Bini as their new coach. Recent FIFA Women’s World Cup debutants Switzerland impressed with a 4-1 win over Denmark in their first outing since Canada 2015. Finally, France beat Brazil 2-1 in front a big Le Havre crowd in their glamour friendly, before Les Bleues eased to a 3-0 win over Romania in their EURO opener.