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What England need to qualify for Nations League knockouts and keep 2024 Olympics hopes alive

Football.London 2024/2/24

England take on Scotland in their final UEFA Women's Nations League group game on Tuesday night but qualification to the knockout stage isn't straightforward

Keira Walsh (L) and Fran Kirby of England react after their team concedes a second goal from Lineth Beerensteyn of Netherlands (not pictured) during the UEFA Womens Nations League match at Wembley Stadium
Keira Walsh (L) and Fran Kirby of England react after their team concedes a second goal from Lineth Beerensteyn of Netherlands (not pictured) during the UEFA Womens Nations League match at Wembley Stadium

England can still qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Women’s Nations League, despite the fact they currently sit second in their group behind the Netherlands.

The two teams cannot be separated by points but, as things stand, Andries Jonker’s side have a superior goal difference heading into the final matchday. Only the top team in the group qualifies for the knockouts, with the two eventual finalists securing a place at next summer’s Olympics in France.

England have only won three of their five games so far in group A1, suffering defeat in Utrecht against the Netherlands at the end of September. Then, despite beating Belgium on home soil at the King Power, they were beaten 3-2 a week later in the reverse fixture.

Sarina Wiegman’s side appeared to be heading out of the competition last Friday as they found themselves 2-0 down against the Netherlands at Wembley. However, a remarkable second-half turnaround and goals from Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp and Ella Toone clinched a much-needed 3-2 victory.

England visit Scotland on Tuesday evening, while the Netherlands and Belgium face off in the other group game.

Here’s what England need to qualify

Should both the Netherlands and England win their respective games, the Lionesses will need to beat Scotland by three goals more than the Dutch beat Belgium.

Should the other group game end in a draw, England must beat Scotland in order to qualify. Goal difference won’t matter in that scenario.

If Belgium are to beat the Netherlands, England must also beat Scotland. A draw won’t be enough as Belgium will finish on 11 points if they win.

Only a win is acceptable for the Lionesses, but depending on what happens in the other fixture, the job can be made a lot more straightforward if the Dutch are to drop points. If England are to progress top of their group, they will play another group winner in the semi-finals.

Winning the semi-final will automatically book Team GB’s spot at the Olympics in 2024. If France are to reach the Nations League final, the second spot will be awarded to the winner of the third-place play-off as France have already qualified as the host nation.

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