THE DAY REPLAYED – Matchday 10 is one two former winners of the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™, namely Norway and USA, will want to forget. A pair of 2-1 defeats, to Australia and Sweden respectively, left them both suffering different fates. For Norway, it was the first time they had failed to qualify for the last eight in their past eight FIFA women's tournaments, while USA lost their proud unbeaten record in the group stage.
For Australia and Brazil, however, there were reasons to cheer. By virtue of their 3-0 win over Equatorial Guinea, the South Americans won their group for the fourth time in a row and, just like in 2007, they neither dropped a point nor conceded a goal. The Matildas, meanwhile, have reached the quarter-finals for the second successive time, gaining one more point in the group stage than four years ago. Today’s results complete the quarter final line-up, with Sweden meeting Australia in Augsburg and USA and Brazil squaring off in Dresden.
Compared to yesterday, which boasted candidates for the Goal of the Tournament, stunning strikes on Matchday 10 were pretty much non-existent. But there may be no goal more dramatic at Germany 2011 than Simon's equaliser for Australia against Norway. Just 63 seconds after Elise Thorsnes had given her side the lead, Tom Sermanni’s team responded in the best possible fashion. Lisa De Vanna won possession near the corner flag, before pulling the ball back perfectly for Simon to side-foot home. It was the second-fastest equaliser at a FIFA Women's World Cup, level with Australian Dianne Alagich, who put through her own net to equalise for Russia at USA 2003. The quickest equaliser at a FIFA Women’s World Cup was scored by Nkiru Okosieme, who netted for Nigeria a matter of seconds after the Americans had scored against them 12 years ago.
Me and my shadow
Coaches are always pleased when players follow the instructions to the letter. Therefore, Marcello Frigerio must have been delighted with Bruna for the job she performed on Marta during the first half of Equatorial Guinea's match with Brazil. The 27-year-old defender stuck to the five-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year like glue, including chasing her in the South Americans' own area. Shortly before half-time, Marta went to Kleiton Lima to get some instructions and Bruna went too. Perhaps understandably, the two Brazilians decided not to talk!
Third time unlucky
Spare a thought for Ingrid Hjelmseth. Not only was she born in the same era as Norwegian great Bente Nordby, who relegated her to the bench for many years, but injury ruled her out of the past two FIFA Women's World Cups. Although she was fit and first choice for this campaign, she landed awkwardly on her left ankle after making a routine catch and required treatment. Although she was able to continue for the final 15 minutes of the first half, she was replaced at half-time by Erika Skarbo.
Dance and deliberance
Following stand-in captain Nilla Fischer’s 35th minute free-kick, which deflected off the unfortunate Amy LePeilbet, the Swedes performs their trademark celebration of Germany 2011: the dance routine of Moussier Tombola’s Logobitombo inside the penalty area. Just a few yards away, USA veteran Shannon Boxx was rallying the stunned Stars and Stripes. To all those in Wolfsburg it was a reminder that football is indeed a game of mixed emotions.
17 – Before this evening's game, USA had never lost any of their 17 group games at the FIFA Women's World Cup. Indeed, they had always finished at their section’s summit with a record of 15 wins and two draws. However, Sweden's two first-half goals condemned them to enter uncharted waters and a tricky looking quarter-final clash with Brazil in the process.
“I came off my line to collect the ball from Servet [Uzunlar], but because I was close to the edge of the box, I could collect it with my hands so I tried to use my head. It didn't work! Because I couldn't score a goal myself, I'm thanking God for the strikers that we have who were able to put the ball in the back of the net! Football is a funny game sometimes,” Melissa Barbieri, Australia goalkeeper and captain, explaining the circumstances which led to Norway’s goal in Leverkusen.
Saturday 9 July
England-France, Leverkusen, 18.00
Germany-Japan, Wolfsburg, 20.45