December 6 – The Netherlands clinched the top spot in Group 1 of the UEFA Women’s Nations League with a 4-0 victory against Belgium on a night of added time goals and passion that saw England’s 6-0 thrashing of Scotland not being enough to take the European Champions and World Cup finalists through to the final four.
The results also mean that Team GB will not feature at the Olympic women’s tournament. Dispensation had been granted that should a team from the four home nations of Great Britain and Northern Ireland make the final four of the Nations League and subsequently one of the top two positions (excluding France) that doubles up as Olympic 2024 qualifying, then GB would qualify to enter a combined team.
It was Netherland’s Damaris Egurrola who broke English hearts with two goals in injury time against their neighbours. The first seemed to have qualified the Dutch but less than a minute later in Glasgow, Lucy Bronze scored to take England back to the top of the group on goal difference. In the 95th and final minute of stoppage time, and with seven different attackers on the pitch, the Dutch built one last attack against a hapless Belgium and getting the vital score to leapfrog England on goal difference.
“We got the goals later on, we thought we’d maybe got over the line, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be,” Beth Mead told the BBC. “It’s a tough one, I think the girls have worked really hard, I thought we were incredible. Unfortunately, it was out of our hands.”
England’s match with Scotland had been mired in controversy given the scenario that Scottish players, eligible to be picked for Team GB, would only have a chance of making the Olympics by losing to England.
England manager Sarina Wiegman however said there was “no way” Scotland would not want to beat England, while Scotland captain Rachel Corsie called questions over the integrity of the fixture “an insult” to her side.
Even so, Scotland played a poor game, allowing England ample opportunity to run up the scoreboard.
The Dutch will join Spain, France and Germany in the final four. The two finalists will clinch a ticket to the Olympic Games. If Olympic hosts France reach the final, the winner of the third-place playoff will qualify for Paris.
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com