Surprise start in Group D as holders are held

The Day Replayed – The opening games in Groups C and D on the second matchday at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2010 in Germany saw holders USA in action for the first time. However, Jill Ellis and her team were surprisingly held to a draw by tournament newcomers Ghana, the first time the North Americans have failed to win their opening match at a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

FIFA.com replays an exciting matchday, featuring a goalfest from Japan and Mexico, and a sobering defeat for Switzerland.

The big game
USA 1-1 Ghana
Goals: Elizabeth Cudjoe for Ghana (7) and Sydney Leroux for the USA (70)

The holders will always go into the next tournament with the burden of expectation upon their shoulders, and the meeting between the USA and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup newcomers Ghana was no exception. However, the Black Princesses were never likely to surrender the points without a fight, as their record of no goals conceded in four qualifying matches for Germany 2010 amply demonstrated. That impressive record spoke volumes about the Ghana defence, and the USA duly struggled to create worthwhile openings for long periods.

Elsewhere
The opening match in Group D saw Switzerland inexplicably perform far below expectations and suffer a morale-sapping defeat. Choi In-Chul’s inspired Korea Republic side put four goals without reply past the Swiss, who have yet to win a match at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

In Group C, England and Nigeria fought tooth and nail for every inch of ground. Both teams favoured offensive tactics and amply justified their place among the 16 best in the world. Kerys Harrop handed the English a first-half lead, but Desire Oparanozie levelled after the break to earn the Africans a share of the spoils.

The fans were treated to a torrent of goals in the second Group C encounter. Mexico and Japan thrilled the crowds with their expansive attacking flair and ended up sharing six goals. Megumi Takase opened for the Asians on 19 minutes, but Renae Cuellar (31), Charlyn Corral (41) and Nayeli Rangel (45) scored for Mexico in an explosive period before the break. The unlucky Cuellar brought the Japanese back into it with an own goal on 64 minutes, and Mana Iwabuchi struck two minutes from time to rescue a point for her side.

Results
England 1-1 Nigeria
Mexico 3-3 Japan
USA 1-1 Ghana
Switzerland 0-4 Korea Republic

Follow the links on the right for full reports on all these games.

Player of the day
Ji Yo-Sun, Korea Republic

Nineteen-year-old striker Ji So-Yun emphatically underlined her vital importance to the South Koreans. She top scored for Korea Republic with four goals at last year’s Asian championships, and was the undisputed match-winner against the sorry Swiss with a sublime hat-trick in a 4-0 triumph. With that start, she already occupies pole position in the race for the adidas Golden Boot awarded to the top markswoman at the tournament.

The stat
1-1
– At the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2008 in Chile, England and Nigeria also met in the group stages – and like today, the game ended 1-1.

The next fixtures
Saturday 17 July
England-Mexico
Nigeria-Japan
USASwitzerland
GhanaKorea Republic

The quote
“We came up against opponents who threw everyone forward right from the start. That took us a little by surprise. We were a little bit lucky at the end when we managed a late equaliser. It’ll be a very closely-fought group. But a result like that, when you turn things around after falling behind early on, is always good for morale,” Norio Sasaki, Japan coach.

Have Your Say
Matchday 2 saw the reigning world champions surprisingly held to a draw. The USA are now joint second in Group D behind Korea Republic. Were you expecting that? Click ‘Add your comment’ and share your views with other FIFA.com users around the globe.