Goals from Lauren James and Alex Greenwood gave England a 2-0 win over an Ireland side that battled to the end in Dublin in the Women’s Euro qualifiers on Tuesday, but France remain top of League A Group 3 after a 1-0 win away to Sweden.

With Leah Williamson retuning to captain England after a year out of the team due to an ACL injury, Chelsea attacker James gave the visitors the lead in the 12th minute with a crisp finish after the Irish failed to deal with a cross into the box.

Alex Greenwood netted a penalty six minutes later, and she was awarded another chance from the spot for another handball on the half-hour mark, but this time she struck Courtney Brosnan’s left-hand post and the ball bounced to safety.

A switch to a more direct approach late on enabled the Irish to exert some real pressure in the second half but they couldn’t get the ball in the net as they fell to their second successive defeat in the four-team qualifying group.

Earlier in the evening, France went top thanks to a 1-0 win over Sweden. Wendie Renard scored the winner in the 81st minute and French forward Vicki Becho was dismissed deep into stoppage time for a second yellow card.

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In Group 1, Finland bounced back from a defeat by Norway to overcome Italy 2-1 in Helsinki, while the Netherlands beat the Norwegians with Lineth Beerensteyn getting the only goal of the game.

In Group 2 the Czech Republic took a shock 1-0 lead over Spain, but the world champions came roaring back to win 3-1 to top the group on six points after two games ahead of Denmark, who beat Belgium 4-2, on goal difference.

Germany’s Lea Schueller struck twice as her side went top of Group 4 thanks to a 3-1 win at home to Iceland, with Austria second in the standings after a 3-1 win away to Poland.