Group B: USA survive as Swedes slip
© AFP

In a first round group which most observers saw as the toughest, USA will no doubt be quietly satisfied at having qualified comfortably. Kristine Lilly and her team-mates never really hit top gear but they only dropped two points - to Korea DPR, who also made it through to the quarter-finals, pushing Sweden down to third on goal difference. Bringing up the rear were Nigeria, who showed some excellent skill but will need to work harder on their finishing.

The final standings
1. USA, 7 pts
2. Korea DPR, 4 pts (+1)
3. Sweden, 4 pts (-1)
4. Nigeria, 1 pt

What's next
Germany-Korea DPR, 22 September, Wuhan
USA-England, 22 September, Tianjin

The tale of the teams
USA: Although they were among the favourites at the outset of the competition, Greg Ryan's charges have yet to really hit their stride. They will almost certainly raise their game in the quarter-finals, however, when they come up against England. One player who is already at her best is star striker Abby Wambach. Having scored three goals in as many games, the University of Florida forward is key to US hopes of making further progress.

Korea DPR: Despite their victory at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2006, Korea DPR were tipped to struggle in this tough qualifying group. It may not have been easy but the Koreans proved up to the challenge. They came from behind to draw 2-2 with USA and after beating Nigeria, managed to limit the damage against the Swedes, losing by just a single goal. Their quarter-final with holders Germany will show just how much progress they have made.

Sweden: Had they not conceded a late equaliser in their opening game with Nigeria, Sweden would have been more than happy with their first-round efforts. Those two dropped points, however, meant that the Scandinavians went into their final group game against Korea DPR with their backs to the wall. Needing to win by three clear goals, their 2-1 victory - featuring an excellent display from the two-goal Charlotta Schelin - was not enough. An early exit duly beckoned - a major disappointment for for the 2003 runners-up.

Nigeria: The African champions were always going to be playing catch-up in Group B, but Effiom Ntiero's charges will be disappointed at not achieving more here in China. After opening the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Sweden, they arguably deserved at least the same from USA but succumbed 1-0. Highest on the list of positives for the Africans was the 21-year-old Cynthia Uwak who certainly caught the eye during their three games.

Moments to savour
The sheer strength of Wambach, who proved to be USA's main weapon. Her physique (1.81m, 73kg) sets her apart from her opponents, and she already has three goals in as many games.

The technique of the North Koreans, who have thrilled fans with their one or two-touch football. Theirs is an attack-minded game with everyone contributing. Their five goals so far have been scored by five different players.

The fighting spirit of the Swedes, which meant that the 2003 runners-up at least exited this year's tournament with a bang, not a whimper. They will hugely frustrated to have fallen at the first hurdle for the first time but their 2-1 win over Korea DPR in their final match certainly thrilled the crowds,

The energy of the Nigerians, who shook up the Swedes and managed to give the Americans a scare as well. They often had as many as four attackers on the pitch at any one time and showed a never-say-die spirit that was a constant threat.

The numbers game
51 -
the percentage of possession enjoyed by Nigeria over their three matches. Proof that it is not how long you have the ball that counts, it's what you do with it.

The closing remarks
"When I was in the locker room, I could hear from the crowd's reaction that we'd conceded. I just wanted the doctor to stitch me up as quickly as possible. We were ahead when I went off and behind when I came back on." USAforward Abby Wambach after the match against Korea DPR, during which she suffered a head wound.