England and Sweden are the latest European nations to book their ticket to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Germany, following aggregate wins against Switzerland and Denmark respectively on Thursday.
The pair join France and Norway, who qualified on Wednesday, as European qualifiers, alongside host nation Germany. However the four losing nations, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy and Ukraine will now play-off for the right to meet the third-placed CONCACAF nation in a further play-off for a berth at Germany 2011.
England had little trouble overpowering Switzerland 5-2 on aggregate scoring a 3-2 win in Wohlen despite the first-half dismissal of goalkeeper Rachel Brown. Holding a two-goal first-leg margin, the tie was effectively over as firstly Kelly Smith, who had earlier missed a penalty, and then Eniola Aluko extended the advantage.
Prolific young Swiss striker Ramona Bachmann pulled a goal back before the interval but Fara Williams scored from the spot for England five minutes after the break. Switzerland did at least score the goal of the night through Sabine Zumbuhl, whose long-range free-kick curled over England’s replacement goalkeeper.
"I feel really relieved,” said England manager Hope Powell. “It wasn't easy in the second half after the red card, but my team played with real discipline and soon scored a third goal early. I'm sure Switzerland can join us at the World Cup."
Sweden continued their record of qualifying for every FIFA Women’s World Cup with the aggregate victory but they needed an extra-time goal from Charlotte Rohlin to draw level on the night and get the better of their neighbours. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Denmark were looking good when Johanna Rasmussen and Cathrine Paaske-Sorensen scored within a matter of minutes just prior to the interval.
However a reshuffled Swedish line-up hit back 17 minutes before full time with Rohlin grabbing the first of a brace of crucial headers. "I'm so happy, lost for words,” said Rohlin whose winner came four minutes into extra time. “The last two days we practiced corners and free-kicks and it's paid off."