THE DAY REPLAYED – Matchday 4 of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012 saw Uruguay go down to a heavy defeat to Ghana to exit the tournament and Group C leaders Japan secure their second win in two games.
While it was a sad day for La Celeste, there was plenty of joy elsewhere. Not least for three substitutes who came on to make goalscoring contributions, and for the fans at Bayil Stadium and 8km Stadium, who were treated to excellent football and some heart-warming sporting touches.
Goal of the day
China PR 1-0 Germany, Miao Siwen 12
Stationed on the left-hand corner of the German box, Miao Siwen latched on to Li Mengwen’s cutback from the by-line, cut inside her marker and curled a delicious shot past Merle Frohms and into the far corner.
Fair play in Group D: The fans at the Bayil Stadium saw not one but two examples of fair play on Wednesday, the first of them at the start of the match between Uruguay and Ghana. While the two teams engaged in the traditional pre-match handshake, Ghana’s substitutes also rose from the bench to shake hands with their South American counterparts. Continuing the sporting theme in the day’s next game was Germany’s Vivien Beil, who came to the aid of China PR’s Zhang Chen when she was struck down with cramp.
Byanca turns it on: Substitute Byanca proved decisive when she came on in Brazil’s meeting with the Mexicans. Not content with entertaining the crowd at the 8km Stadium with her unique ball skills, at one point performing a “lambretta” by flicking the ball up between her heels and over the head of an opponent, she also scored the game’s only goal eight minutes from time. It was one worth waiting for too, as the No9 lobbed the ball into the top corner of the Mexican net from fully 25 metres out.
Bye bye Uruguay: Celeste keeper Gabriela Gonzalez left the pitch in tears when she was sent off in Uruguay’s opening game against China PR. And at the end of their second match against Ghana, which saw them go out of the competition, virtually all her distraught team-mates followed suit. Even coach Graciela Rebollo was inconsolable as she choked back the tears in the post-match press conference.
Subs make their mark: The outcomes of three of the day’s four games were altered by substitutes. After coming on 69 minutes into Brazil’s game with Mexico, Byanca scored a stunning goal to give her side victory, while Yui Hasegawa justified Japan coach Hirishi Yoshida’s decision to bring her on at half-time against New Zealand by hitting a brace in their 3-0 win. Ricarda Kiessling’s late introduction for Germany proved even more dramatic. Thrown on in place of Venus El Kassem, herself a second-half sub, Kiessling struck four minutes into injury time to secure a vital point for her side against China PR.
5 - In putting five goals past Uruguay, Ghana scored their second biggest victory in a FIFA tournament, eclipsed only by the 7-1 win achieved by the men’s U-17 side against Thailand at New Zealand 1999.
“Switch off for a second against Japan and they’ll punish you. As soon as you stop doing things right, they score, and that’s the mark of a world-class team,” New Zealand coach Paul Temple.