UEFA Women’s Champions League Qualifying – British & Irish sides enter final round

Representing UK and Ireland – Final Round of UWCL Qualifying.

Tonight 20 matches will be played across Europe to conclude the qualifying round of the UEFA Women’s Champions League with plenty of British and Irish involvement…

Hibernian (SCO), Cardiff Met (WAL), Linfield Ladies (NIR) and Wexford Youths (IRE) have all won games in the quest to make the knockout round of 32 where, those who are successful, will find themselves potentially pitted against European powerhouses such as Olympique Lyon, Wolfsburg, Arsenal and Atlético Madrid over two legs.

A total of 40 teams, split across 10 seeded groups are fighting for the remaining spots – with only each group winner making the cut.

Hibernian were seeded one in their group and currently sit top after two wins.  They need a draw to be sure of progressing.

The rules of qualification are convoluted. Cardiff Met are seeded three in the same group as the Edinburgh side and seemingly need a massive (at least five goal) win over Georgia’s FC Nike, while also requiring Slovenia’s WFC Pomurje to achieve just a modest (1-0) victory over Hibs – Cardiff Met thereby gaining qualification through the head-to-head route.

If Pomurje win by any more than this, the ladies from Beltinci will themselves progress through a better head-to-head record against the Scots!

The two British teams met in the second round of matches with Hibs edging it 2-1. Amy Gallacher scored from a tight angle to put them ahead and captain Joelle Murray headed in a second midway through the second period.

Emily Allen got one back for the Archers late in the game, but it proved to be no more than a consolation.

In Group 10, Ireland’s Wexford Youths would appear to be out, following the logic of the rules – having already lost to Albanian side Vllaznia who sit top with six points. Even a win in their final match, accompanied by a big swing in goal difference wouldn’t seem to make a difference.

Wexford defied the odds in Lithuania over the weekend, coming back from a goal down to beat number 1 seeds Gintra Universitetasin with headed goals from McKenna Davidson and Lauren Kelly either side of half time. Tom Elmes’ side now face Malta’s best, Birkirkara at the Stadium of Marijampole.

Seeded four in Group 8, Linfield Ladies achieved their first ever Champions League win when they beat Greek champions PAOK 3-2 over the weekend. Kelsie Burrows and Ashley Hutton had kept Belfast’s finest in the first half.  Linfield captain Kirsty McGuinness then sealed the win from the penalty spot in the last minute of the match.

They now have the daunting task of trying to get the job done against highly fancied number one seeds and match hosts, Anderlecht.

UWCL Qualifying – How it’s decided:

  1. Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
  2. Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
  3. Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
  4. If more than two teams are tied, and after applying all head-to-head criteria above, a subset of teams are still tied, all head-to-head criteria above are reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams;
  5. Goal difference in all group matches;
  6. Goals scored in all group matches.

The very best of luck to all…

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