England needed a win and plenty of goals in order to stave off elimination from the 2024 Paris Olympics. They got both in their 6-0 win over Scotland in the UEFA Nations League group stage finale on Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the semifinals and a shot at the Olympics.
England needed to both win their game against Scotland and make up their three-goal differential with the Netherlands to finish atop their Nations League group. For 95 minutes on Tuesday, they were on the verge of pulling it off, until the Netherlands’ Damaris Egurrola scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time against Belgium to lift the Dutch to a 4-0 win and maintain a one-goal lead in the tiebreaker scenario.
As a result, the Netherlands advance out of Group A1 and have a shot at Olympic qualification (the top two teams in the Nations League qualify for the Olympics). Meanwhile, England, the 2023 World Cup runners-up, will not compete in Paris next summer as part of Team Great Britain.
A dramatic, stoppage-time win over the Netherlands on Friday kept the team’s Olympic hopes alive, but they needed another win — and some help — to overcome a disappointing start to the qualification tournament.
England’s stars shined early against Scotland, with Alex Greenwood, Lauren James (two goals) and Beth Mead (one) scoring before the half to give the Lionesses a 4-0 lead. Fran Kirby tacked on one more in the second half and Lucy Bronze added insurance in stoppage time, appearing to solidify England’s group victory. The Netherlands’ Egurrola then broke through for two stoppage-time goals to dash England’s hopes of advancing in stunning fashion.
England, as the highest-ranked home nation, would have represented Team Great Britain at the Paris Olympics on behalf of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Scotland didn’t want to make it easy on England — even if their own Olympics qualification as part of Team GB hung in the balance — due to a decades-old rivalry between the teams.
“Truthfully, I think it’s extremely disrespectful,” Rachel Corsie said ahead of the matchup when questions arose about the possibility of allowing England to win in order to qualify for the Olympics. “It’s a huge insult to us.
“To have played for my country as many years as I have, to know the girls sitting in there [the dressing room], the ones who want to be here but are injured and cannot be here, it’s absolutely outrageous to question anyone’s integrity.”
At the last Olympics in 2021 in Tokyo, both England (as Great Britain) and the Netherlands advanced to the quarterfinals, where they lost to Australia and the United States, respectively.