THE DAY REPLAYED - With three former champions and the home favourites set on a collision course, it was hardly surprising that the first of Canada 2014's quarter-finals went off with a bang. And while goals were not in plentiful supply, what the encounters lacked in that respect, they more than made up for in drama and passion.
The end result was a bad day for North America, with holders USA and hosts Canada both left to lick their wounds. The Americans will be particularly disappointed at having relinquished their trophy on penalties, though Korea DPR's contribution to the teams' 1-1 draw suggested they were most deserving of a last-four slot in any case.
Canada, for their part, competed valiantly before going down to a more composed and clinical German team in front of a large, appreciative Edmonton crowd.
Korea DPR 1-1 USA, 3-1 PSO
Germany 2-0 Canada
Goal of the day
Germany-Canada 1-0, Pauline Bremer (24)
If there was a striker's manual, Pauline Bremer's opening goal against Canada would be worth an entry in itself. Initially, there was instinct and opportunism on show in reading Lena Petermann's flick-on, followed by pace and determination to ensure she got to the ball first. What followed was the Germany No9 showing skill to round Kailen Sheridan, then intelligence to realise that she had taken the ball too wide to be confident of scoring with a first-time effort. Rounding it off was a touch of class, in beating Sheridan again, and the composure required to coolly pick her spot between defenders racing back to cover the goal-line.
Tears and cheers: It's rarely enjoyable to watch weeping, crestfallen footballers - never mind U-20 women footballers - struggling and gulping their way through post-match interviews. But while the dream ended for Canada, there was solace to be drawn not only in a battling performance - but in the recognition of a bumper crowd. No fewer than 22,421 supporters, the biggest attendance of Canada 2014 thus far, packed into Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium and were noisy in their backing of Andrew Olivieri's young side. And while players and fans alike had hoped to prolong the party, there was plenty both on and off the park to suggest that next year's senior showpiece will prove a roaring success.
Penalty jinx strikes: USA's players pride themselves on the fact that, when the going gets tough, they tend to get going. But while mental strength is rarely to be found lacking in American players, they must have experienced have experienced a familiar sinking feeling when today's quarter-final with Korea DPR went to penalties. After all, this latest US defeat is their fourth in as many shootouts at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, and is now becoming the traditional manner by which the three-time champions exit this tournament. Taking in all FIFA women's competitions, the Stars and Stripes have now lost five out their seven shootouts, a tally that no other nation can, or would wish to, match.
Curse of the hosts: If 2014 is remembered for one result, it will surely be for Germany's stunning 7-1 defeat of Brazil at the FIFA World Cup™. But when it comes to breaking hosts' hearts, the German U-20 women have been leading the way for years - and continued that habit today. Canada, in fact, can consider themselves to have got off lightly because in three matches against host teams at this tournament, Germany have now racked up an aggregate score of 11-0. The Canucks fared best in losing just 2-0, with Japan having been beaten 3-0 two years ago and Thailand crushed 6-0 when they welcomed the European giants in 2004.
1 - The number of penalties scored by USA in their defeat to Korea DPR. In the history of FIFA women's competitions at all levels, only one team has emerged from a shootout with such a meagre tally. Rubbing salt in American wounds is the fact that this team was the senior US ladies, with the occasion their heartbreaking defeat to Japan in the final of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
"This tournament has been awesome. It's been a crazy, amazing experience and I'm sure any young girls watching it will have been inspired. I think we've also shown that there are some great players coming through in Canada, and next year we're going to do something special," Emma Fletcher, Canada midfielder.
Wednesday, 17 August 2014 (all times local)
Quarter-finals (Moncton and Montreal)
Nigeria-New Zealand, 17.00
France-Korea Republic 19.00