The Group D line-up included UEFA European U-17 Women's champions Germany and Ghana, both ever-presents at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup so far and among the favourites to lift this year's crown. For the Germans at least, a place in the last eight was their declared pre-tournament goal.
By contrast, China PR and Uruguay were competing at this level for the first time - and for the Celeste it was a maiden appearance at a FIFA women's tournament. The South American newcomers finished with three defeats, but there was plenty to admire and to indicate that the game in Uruguay is coming on fast.
In the first round of matches, China PR comfortably won the debutants’ showdown against Uruguay by a four-goal margin, raising more than a few eyebrows. The Germans were pushed all the way by seasoned Ghana but battled to a narrow 2-1 victory.
On Matchday 2, the Chinese and Germans served up a contest bristling with tension and drama. China PR led at half-time, with the Europeans hunting an equaliser for almost 80 minutes. The precious goal duly arrived courtesy of Ricarda Kiessling, but not until the 94th minute of play. In the parallel fixture, Ghana thrashed the Uruguayans 5-0 to register a first win, but a second defeat meant the South Americans would no longer survive the group stage.
The other three teams went into the final round of matches with hopes of progressing. It was a must-win affair for the Ghanaians against China, who were transformed from virtual unknowns to intriguing outside bets in the course of their first two matches. But at the end of the day, the pacey Africans won 2-0 to eliminate the Chinese. Germany sealed top spot in the section with a 5-2 victory over Uruguay.
Super sub strikes at the death
After the final whistle, the tears flowed like water for the devastated China PR players. They had come within seconds of booking a second victory of the tournament and moving onto six points, but late Germany sub Ricarda Kiessling scrambled a draw for her team at the death. The Nordlingen striker is shaping to be a trademark super sub, as she also entered the fray against Uruguay in the second half and added another to her tally.
Crowd pleasers Uruguay
Coach Graciela Rebollo's youngsters were realistically in Azerbaijan to gain valuable experience for the future and duly lost all their matches, but they won the hearts of the crowd ahead of their final game against Germany, as they emerged from the tunnel laughing, dancing and singing. The spectators immediately took sides, urging on the South Americans during the game and breaking out into wild celebrations after their two goals. After the final whistle, Yamila Badell and her team-mates thanked their newly-won fans with a communal celebration on the field.
All good things come in threes
In the wake of Ghana's victory over China PR, the African players’ euphoric joy at reaching the quarter-finals could barely be contained. In their third tilt at the FIFA U-17 women's crown, Ghana finally made it out of the group, with two-goal Jane Ayieyam the match winner on the day.
2 - Yamila Badell scored twice in Uruguay's final group game against Germany, prompting delirious celebrations for her team-mates and their coaches. And for good reason: the brace represented not just Uruguay's first goals at the tournament, but the nation’s first ever at a FIFA women's event.
"The goals against Germany were the product of the girls working so hard on the field. The team was no longer nervous in our third and last match, and the goals were a reward of sorts after our two previous matches. I'm very proud of my girls," Uruguay coach Graciela Rebollo.