We round up Friday's UEFA Women’s Nations League fixtures, with 10 different Blues in action across Europe, as well as a successful evening for our Canadian contingent.
The inaugural Women’s Nations League is, among other things, serving as qualification for next summer’s Olympic Games in Paris, with the top two teams excluding the hosts France qualifying for Paris 2024.
We start with the runners-up in last month’s World Cup final…
England edge past Scots
In a battle of the Home Nations at the Stadium of Light, England fought hard to beat Scotland 2-1.
Millie Bright continued as captain in the heart of the back three, with Jess Carter alongside her after her fantastic displays in Australia. Lauren James lined up on the left side of the front three. Scotland were without the injured Erin Cuthbert.
Both sides wasted chances to go ahead before a flurry of goals as half-time approached. Lucy Bronze and Lauren Hemp scored with fantastic headers for England, but Scotland had posed a threat and they halved the deficit through Kirsty Hanson with the last kick of the first half.
James volleyed a rare England chance over midway through the second period but the best chance of the half fell to the Scots, Hanson’s controlled volley thudding against the woodwork.
The Lionesses were far from their fluent best but did enough to start their Nations League campaign with three points, and it would have been three goals had James’ injury-time header not been ruled out for offside.
Hannah Hampton and Niamh Charles were unused substitutes in Sunderland. England travel to the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Cankovic inspires comeback
Jelena Cankovic scored and assisted a goal as Serbia fought back from a goal down to beat Ukraine 2-1 in a game played in Poland.
Cankovic equalised just after the hour mark with a bending free-kick that went in off the post, and then laid on the winner for Nevena Damjanovic 11 minutes from time.
She completed the full game in a midfield three as Serbia’s Nations League campaign got off to a winning start. They host Greece on Tuesday.
Eve Perisset lined up at right-back as France defeated Portugal 2-0 in Valenciennes.
PSG’s Grace Geyoro put Les Bleues ahead on 27 minutes. Patricia Morais in the Portugal goal was in great form to stop the World Cup quarter-finalists extending their lead until a minute from time when Selma Bacha's free-kick found the net. Perisset was then withdrawn with her job done for the night.
Frustration for Norwegian pair
Elsewhere in Group A2, Norway, featuring Maren Mjelde and Guro Reiten, were held to a 1-1 draw by Austria.
Mjelde captained as usual from central defence, with Reiten deployed in a midfield position. Norway went ahead midway through the first half in Oslo, Karina Saevik finding the net, but were pegged back midway through the second. They couldn’t muster a winner despite having 17 attempts overall and hitting the woodwork three times.
Sweden and Wales beaten
In a thrilling rematch of the World Cup semi-final last month, Spain again emerged victorious against Sweden.
It finished 3-2 on this occasion with Spain’s winner from the penalty spot scored by Mariona Caldentey in the 96th minute. Zecira Musovic and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd started for the Swedes, who went ahead courtesy of a header from former Blue Magda Eriksson, playing her 100th game for her country.
Athenea del Castillo equalised for Spain before the break with a long-range shot Musovic will feel she should have done better with, but our keeper was at her best in the second half, produced a pair of stunning saves to keep it at 1-1.
She was powerless to prevent Eva Navarro putting the world champions ahead with a thunderous strike 13 minutes from time, but Arsenal’s Lina Hurtig levelled before the late penalty drama.
Rytting Kaneryd, who started on the right wing, looked bright as ever during her 65 minutes on the pitch.
Sophie Ingle captained Wales as they were beaten 1-0 by Iceland in Reykjavik.
Ingle played the full game in the base of midfield. Iceland captain Glodis Viggosdottir headed her side into the lead on 18 minutes and it was one they held on to. Wales enjoyed plenty of possession but struggled to muster many clear chances.
They will hope for better luck when they host Denmark on Tuesday.
Canada cruise in the Caribbean
Canada are just 90 minutes away from qualifying for the Olympics after defeating Jamaica 2-0 in the first leg of a CONCACAF play-off tie.
Jessie Fleming, Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence all started in Kingston, and it was Lawrence who set up Canada's opener on 18 minutes with a superb cross Nichelle Prince headed in from close range.
Canada hit the post twice in the second half before Adriana Leon made sure of the win in added time. The second leg is on Tuesday night local time in Toronto, with Canada aiming to complete the job and ensure they will defend the Olympic title they won in Tokyo two years ago.