Women's World Cup Qualifying
WalesWales4EstoniaEstonia0

Women's World Cup 2023 qualifier: Wales cruise to win

By Michael PearlmanBBC Sport Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium
Women's World Cup qualifying highlights: Wales 4-0 Estonia

Wales treated a record crowd of 5,455 at the Cardiff City Stadium to a dominant display as they thrashed Estonia 4-0.

Angharad James' tidy finish gave Wales a narrow 1-0 lead at the interval.

Record scorer Helen Ward doubled Wales' lead after half time before Natasha Harding's tap-in made the result safe.

Wales ended the contest with 31 shots on goal and added a late fourth when captain Sophie Ingle smashed home after a fine run.

This was simply a must-win game for Gemma Grainger's charges as they look to secure at least a runners-up berth from World Cup qualifying group I.

Wales have never qualified for a major tournament, but have made a promising start in their bid to reach the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Wales celebrate Helen Ward's goal
Helen Ward's goal was her 44th for Wales in her 96th appearance, while Natasha Harding scored her 22nd Wales goal as she won her 93rd cap

Having thrashed Kazakhstan 6-0 in their opening game, Grainger's side ground out a 1-0 victory in Estonia before securing a creditable 1-1 draw in Slovenia last Friday as they bid to keep pace with group leaders France.

Manager Grainger has been clear in her aims to make Wales a more attacking side and that policy was reflected in her starting XI with Ceri Holland switching from right wing to left back and Manchester United's talented teenager Carrie Jones earning a start in attack.

Watford's Ward also earned a recall in place of the suspended Kayleigh Green, for her 96th cap.

She might have put them ahead as early as the 11th minute, but just failed to connect with Harding's cross. Harding herself failed to convert from a Karina Kork save as she looked to turn home a rebound.

Wales continued on the front foot in a one-sided first half where they enjoyed 85% possession, but Kork saved efforts from distance from Ingle and Holland, while Harding drilled wide and Ward headed over.

The breakthrough arrived on 27 minutes when Ingle's perfect pass bisected Estonia's defence and James ran clear to slot home a third Wales goal on her 90th appearance.

Harding then shot tamely at Kork and saw her cross evade both Gemma Evans and Jones by a matter of inches, before Ingle and Ward both glanced headers just wide.

The wait for a second strike did not last long though, with Ward scoring her 44th international goal on 48 minutes as she slipped the ball under Kork after Rhiannon Roberts' through ball.

That eased Wales' nerves and Harding soon added a third from close range following Holland's teasing cross.

How many goals they could score became the only issue at 3-0 and, with the match won, Grainger opted to give a debut to Hannah Cain, the Leicester midfielder who has switched allegiances from England.

The home side's pressure never relented and Harding was denied her second by a last-ditch tackle before Roberts headed straight at Kork.

The chances kept coming but Cain's firmly-struck volley was pushed over by Kork and Jones' superb run and cross deserved more, but Harding failed to make telling contact.

Harding might have got a hat-trick on another night, but was again denied by the impressive Kork.

Ingle then scored the pick of the goals in injury time as she beat two defenders before slamming home her third international goal.

Player of the match: Karina Kork, Estonia, the impressive visiting goalkeeper kept the score respectable.

Wales manager Gemma Grainger told BBC Sport Wales:

"There was so much to like about tonight's performance, first and foremost the crowd.

"A crowd like that makes us stronger and prouder and makes us know why we do what we do.

"With the goals and the stats on possession, we are becoming a more clinical team. We want to build on that.

"We are feeling positive and we are happy with the first four games. We enjoy this tonight and then our focus turns really quickly to November."

Line-ups

Wales

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1O'SullivanSubstituted forClarkat 87'minutes
  • 5Roberts
  • 14Ladd
  • 3Evans
  • 18HollandSubstituted forFilbeyat 87'minutes
  • 8James
  • 4Ingle
  • 11Harding
  • 10Fishlock
  • 20JonesSubstituted forWoodhamat 77'minutes
  • 7WardSubstituted forCainat 61'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Woodham
  • 6Green
  • 9Walters
  • 12Clark
  • 13Hughes
  • 15Cain
  • 16Estcourt
  • 17Morgan
  • 19Wynne
  • 21Soper
  • 22Filbey
  • 23Morgan

Estonia

Formation 5-4-1

  • 12Kork
  • 6OravSubstituted forSaarat 81'minutes
  • 9Aarna
  • 15Zlidnis
  • 16Liir
  • 7Merisalu
  • 13Bannikova
  • 8MengelSubstituted forNiitat 59'minutes
  • 10Daut
  • 19Kubassova
  • 23TreibergSubstituted forSaarat 86'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Strigin
  • 2Laas
  • 4Saar
  • 5Israel
  • 11Kikkas
  • 14Mehevets
  • 17Saar
  • 18Kriisa
  • 20Niit
  • 21Repkin
  • 22Piirimaa
Referee:
Marta Frías Acedo
Attendance:
5,455

Match Stats

Home TeamWalesAway TeamEstonia
Possession
Home80%
Away20%
Shots
Home31
Away0
Shots on Target
Home12
Away0
Corners
Home14
Away0
Fouls
Home4
Away4

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Wales Women 4, Estonia Women 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Wales Women 4, Estonia Women 0.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Wales Women 4, Estonia Women 0. Sophie Ingle (Wales Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Hannah Cain (Wales Women).

  5. Post update

    Eva-Maria Niit (Estonia Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Wales Women. Conceded by Marie Saar.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Wales Women. Olivia Clark replaces Laura O'Sullivan.

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Wales Women. Anna Filbey replaces Ceri Holland.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Wales Women. Conceded by Sandra Liir.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Angharad James (Wales Women) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Sophie Ingle.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Estonia Women. Heleri Saar replaces Emma Treiberg.

  12. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Natasha Harding (Wales Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sophie Ingle with a through ball.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Rhiannon Roberts (Wales Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Angharad James with a cross following a corner.

  14. Post update

    Corner, Wales Women. Conceded by Sandra Liir.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Estonia Women. Marie Saar replaces Maria Orav because of an injury.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Ceri Holland (Wales Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  17. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jess Fishlock (Wales Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Natasha Harding.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Wales Women. Lily Woodham replaces Carrie Jones.

  19. Post update

    Offside, Wales Women. Carrie Jones tries a through ball, but Natasha Harding is caught offside.

  20. Post update

    Offside, Wales Women. Sophie Ingle tries a through ball, but Jess Fishlock is caught offside.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Tuesday 26th October 2021

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Sweden33006069
2Finland32016336
3Slovakia31023303
4R. of Ireland21012203
5Georgia300309-90

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain3300230239
2Scotland330011299
3Ukraine210146-23
4Hungary4103812-43
5Faroe Islands4004228-260

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Netherlands43101311210
2Iceland32019276
3Czech Republic31119544
4Belarus21014313
5Cyprus4004125-240

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England44003203212
2Austria43102131810
3Northern Ireland421110647
4North Macedonia4103618-123
5Luxembourg4103321-183
6Latvia4004226-240

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Denmark44002812712
2Russia44001401412
3Montenegro4202612-66
4Malta4112413-94
5Bos-Herze4013417-131
6Azerbaijan4004114-130

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norway43101701710
2Poland42204138
3Belgium4211155107
4Albania4112610-44
5Kosovo4112211-94
6Armenia4004017-170

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Switzerland44001711612
2Italy44001601612
3Romania32015236
4Moldova200209-90
5Lithuania3003112-110
6Croatia4004015-150

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany44002011912
2Portugal43101221010
3Turkey311123-14
4Serbia Women310247-33
5Israel3003012-120
6Bulgaria3003013-130

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France44002922712
2Wales43101211110
3Slovenia421111567
4Greece4202516-116
5Kazakhstan4004215-130
6Estonia4004020-200
View full Women's World Cup Qualifying tables

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