Women's European Championship Qualifying - Group C
WalesWales3Belarus WomenBelarus Women0

Wales 3-0 Belarus Women

By Michael PearlmanBBC Sport Wales at Rodney Parade

Wales swept aside Belarus 3-0 with a fine performance on a bittersweet night for Jayne Ludlow's side, who cannot now qualify for the Euros.

Natasha Harding prodded Wales into the lead from close range, and Rachel Rowe doubled the advantage before half-time with a fantastic angled finish.

Jess Fishlock's cool penalty made the result safe for Wales.

However, Northern Ireland's 5-1 win over the Faroe Islands saw them pip Wales to a play-off berth.

Going into the match, Wales knew they needed to beat Belarus and hope the Faroe Islands - who had scored none and conceded 37 in their previous six qualifiers - caused an upset by avoiding defeat against Northern Ireland.

But Northern Ireland advance ahead of Wales as Group C runners-up by virtue of a better head-to-head record, despite Ludlow's side having a goal difference superior by 12.

The away goals rule favours Northern Ireland in the head-to-head calculations, after they drew 2-2 in Wales before a 0-0 draw in the return fixture in Belfast.

However, Wales will be buoyed at least by ending the campaign with a dominant victory and a good performance.

Ludlow opted to drop both of her forwards selected for the last match against Group C winners Norway. Helen Ward and Kayleigh Green missed out as Rowe and Ffion Morgan were picked.

Illness for Gemma Evans saw Charlie Estcourt given a start at left-back and Tottenham midfielder Josie Green was also recalled to form a central-defensive partnership with captain Sophie Ingle.

Incredibly, the minnows from the Faroes led in Belfast when the Wales players emerged from the tunnel, but Kenny Shiels' side were in front by the time Wales opened the scoring in Newport.

Harding had already had a shot deflected narrowly wide when she poked Wales into the lead by showing good composure in the penalty area to turn home Fishlock's intelligent pass, scoring her 19th international goal.

Fishlock, as ever, looked a threat all evening and she was pivotal to most of Wales' best moves, teeing up Ingle for a long-range shot that Nataliya Voskobovich was forced to save before her pinpoint cross was headed against the upright by Morgan who really should have opened her international account.

However, Wales did double their lead; Rowe added to the winning goal she scored in the reverse fixture with a fantastic right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that whipped over Voskobovich.

It was no less than Ludlow's side deserved in a half where the visitors were restricted to two long-range efforts from Anna Pilipenko and Anastasiya Shcherbachenia.

Shcherbachenia, the Belarus captain, was within a whisker of getting the visitors back into things just before the hour, but her thunderbolt of a free-kick rattled the crossbar with Viktoriya Kazakevich unable to turn home the rebound.

With a comfortable advantage and the news from Belfast, the second half rather meandered along until Harding was fouled with 20 minutes remaining and Fishlock, Wales' most-capped player, fired home from the spot for her 30th international goal in her 120th appearance.

Wales might have added a fourth, but will now begin preparing to try to reach a first major finals at the 2023 World Cup.

Wales manager Jayne Ludlow told BBC Sport Wales:

"The girls stuck to the game plan, worked really hard and enjoyed themselves out there. It's been a tough, interesting campaign for us, but one that is going to make us stronger.

"There have been times where we have done excellent and got what we deserved and there have been times we haven't done those things and we will learn from those things and move on.

"As we've shown tonight, we have a great group of girls of different ages and we are looking forward to the future.

"Each campaign we are getting closer. Even points for second place this time, so we are frustrated.

"We are getting closer to making that final step and hopefully the youngsters coming through will help us do that."

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Scores, Results & Fixtures

Tuesday 1st December 2020

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Netherlands1010004834530
2Russia108022361724
3Slovenia Women950422121015
4Kosovo Women10316629-2310
5Turkey Women10127928-195
6Estonia Women9018131-301

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Denmark109104814728
2Italy97112552022
3Bos-Herze Wom106041917218
4Malta Women103161130-1910
5Israel Women92161018-87
6Georgia Women100010345-420

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norway66003413318
2N Ireland Wom84221717014
3Wales84221641214
4Belarus Women72051115-46
5Faroe Islands Women7007142-410

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain65103213116
2Czech Rep Wom85122491516
3Poland Women74211621414
4Moldova Women7106342-393
5Azerbaijan Women6006122-210

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Finland Women65101821616
2Portugal651081716
3Scotland6303163139
4Albania Women8206721-146
5Cyprus Women6006022-220

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Sweden87104023822
2Iceland86112552019
3Slovakia Women8314719-1210
4Hungary Women82151120-97
5Latvia Women8008239-370

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France87104404422
2Austria86112231919
3Serbia Women84042112912
4North Macedonia Women8206839-316
5Kazakhstan Women8008243-410

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium87013753221
2Switzerland86112061419
3Romania Women73041216-49
4Croatia Women7214718-117
5Lithuania Women8008132-310

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany88004614524
2Ukraine Women85031621-515
3R. of Ireland Wom84131110113
4Greece Women8215621-157
5Montenegro Women8008228-260
View full Women's European Championship Qualifying tables

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