Records tumble, holders advance and heavyweights collide
THE DAY REPLAYED – A fascinating and contrasting day of FIFA Women’s World Cup™ action was eventually headlined by world champions Japan whose hard-fought 2-1 win over Cameroon saw them become the first team through to the Round of 16. The other group match saw Switzerland pass several milestones in their 10-1 victory over Ecuador in Vancouver.
Meanwhile over in Winnipeg, USA and Sweden played a gruelling but exciting scoreless draw in a match-up between genuine world powers. The result, combined with the earlier 2-0 win for Australia over Nigeria, leaves the so-called ‘Group of Death’ fascinatingly poised heading into the final matchday.
Results *Group C *Japan 2-1 Cameroon Switzerland 10-1 Ecuador
Group D Australia 2-0 Nigeria USA 0-0 Sweden
Goal of the day *Japan 2-0 Cameroon, Yuika Sugasawa (15) *It may not have been spectacular but it was certainly a textbook training-ground goal, and one that also proved to be the match-winner. Though modest in height, Yuika Sugasawa rose perfectly at the back post to nod home a searching delivery from one of the world’s great dead-ball exponents in Aya Miyama.
Memorable moments *A match of milestones Switzerland may only have played two Women’s World Cup matches to date, but the Nati *contributed to a host of records in Vancouver. Their 10-1 win over Ecuador equalled the most goals in a game set in the 2007 tournament opener when Germany routed Argentina 11-0. Classy Swiss attacker Fabienne Humm also set a new mark for the fastest hat-trick after her stunning five-minute second-half effort eclipsed the previous mark of eight minutes set by Japan’s Mio Otani in 2003.
Unique day out A World Cup footballer has surely never experienced a day like it. Ecuador fullback Angie Ponce not only became the first player to score two own goals in the Women’s World Cup - she did so in a single game. However, the No6 does have a positive record to her name that can never be taken away. Her second-half penalty conversion made Ponce the first Ecuadorian to score in a Women’s World Cup.
Pia’s warm reunion Thursday was just the second Women’s World Cup match in which a coach has met a former team as Canada’s John Herdman faced up against New Zealand. Just 24 hours later saw the third such occasion as Sweden coach Pia Sundhage faced the team she took all the way to the Germany 2011 Final - USA. Sundhage, who proved hugely popular during her four years Stateside, spent a lengthy period post-match talking to Stars and Stripes forward Abby Wambach, as well as hugging countless other former players.
A captain’s tears Ecuador’s Ligia Moreira was a forced absentee from the match against Switzerland following her red card against Cameroon in the group opener on Monday. However, there was still plenty of love for the skipper who joined together with her team-mates for a collective pre-match hug only to return to the stands with tears rolling down from under her sunglasses.
The stat 18 – Australia rid themselves of their unwanted streak by finally completing a Women’s World Cup match without conceding a goal. Eighteen matches since their debut, the Matildas kept Nigeria scoreless though they still hold the record of most games without maintaining a clean sheet ahead of several nations on ten matches.
The words "That’s my job. That’s actually something that we practiced previously this week. I’m glad I picked up something in practice and I was in the right spot at the right time. The girls really rallied around it." USA defender Meghan Klingenberg on her dramatic headed goal-line clearance which helped her side earn a point against Sweden.
Next matchday *Saturday 13 June (all times local) Group E *Brazil-Spain (Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 16.00) Korea Republic-Costa Rica (Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 19.00)
Group F France-Colombia (Moncton Stadium, Moncton, 14.00) England-Mexico (Moncton Stadium, Moncton, 17.00)