THE DAY REPLAYED– The third and final matches for teams in Groups A and B of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup went the way of the formbook, as the nations classed among the favourites lived up to their reputations and the final placings remained as they were prior to kick-off.
While USA were making light work of China in Moncton, Germany put on an attacking masterclass against Brazil in Montreal. Contrary to what the final score might lead fans around the world to believe, however, the European side did not have it all their own way and trailed 1-0 at half-time, a result that compromised their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals and offered the South Americans a glimmer of hope.
The Group A fixtures in the evening, meanwhile, saw Canada conjure up a minor surprise by beating Korea DPR, as Finland, who again opened the scoring, suffered another defeat against Ghana, who bid farewell to the competition despite having amassed an impressive points total of six.
Results*Group A *
Korea DPR 0-1 Canada
Ghana 2-1 Finland
USA 3-0 China
Brazil 1-5 Germany
Goal of the day
*Brazil-Germany 1-2, Pauline Bremer (38) *
Several squandered chances and a missed penalty might well have sapped the morale of Pauline Bremer, especially as she and her team-mates found themselves a goal down and in danger of letting first place in the group slip or even failing to qualify for the knockout phase altogether.
But the resilient forward showed her great strength of character in the second period, following Sara Dabritz’s equaliser. Picking up the ball in midfield, she put on a burst of pace down the left flank and skipped past Julia, before adroitly changing direction to round goalkeeper Leticia and give the Germans the lead from an acute angle.
Memorable moments*Woodwork classes. *Although China were handed a resounding reverse on Tuesday, they also have the goal frame to thank for not being on the end of a more comprehensive defeat. Mallory Pugh struck the crossbar and then the base of Lu Feifei’s right-hand post, before Katie Naughton contrived to hit the bar from point-blank range. Thankfully for the young Americans, Lindsey Horan had given her side the lead in the meantime, but even then the woodwork still played a part. Horan’s remarkable half-volley cannoned off the underside of the bar, crossed the line and bounced back out again, but the observant referee awarded the goal.
German jinx. *It would be understandable if supporters of Brazil wished to never cross Germany's path again in major international tournaments. Following *Die Nationalelf’s sensational 7-1 semi-final victory over the host nation at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, their female U-20 counterparts barred the Brazilians’ route to the quarter-finals in eye-catching fashion, scoring five times in a rampant second-half display. And just like the loss endured by David Luiz and Co was their worst in World Cup history, this result was the heaviest defeat ever suffered by the Canarinhas since the U-20 event began.
Starless night. The encounter between Korea DPR and Canada was billed as a chance to see two of the tournament’s best players – Ri Un-Sim and Jessie Fleming – go head-to head. But fans in attendance were surprised to learn pre-match that the pair of stars were listed as substitutes. Fleming would remain there, having injured herself just before kick-off. As for the clinical Asian striker, the knock she received to the knee during the North Koreans’ 3-0 win over Ghana meant that she spent the first half on the bench as a precaution. After coming on at half-time, she could only watch as Janine Beckie, Fleming’s replacement, scored the game-winning goal in the 65th minute.
The stat 12 – The number of goals two-time champions Germany notched in Group B, generally considered to be the toughest of all the sections due to the inclusion of three-time U-20 World Cup winners USA, as well as Brazil and China, traditional powers of the women’s game.
A 2-0 win over the Americans, an incredible 5-5 draw with the Chinese and a 5-1 triumph versus Brazil helped Maren Meinert’s charges to top the group. “It’s quite an achievement to have scored 12 goals against such strong teams,” said the Rheinhausen-born coach.
The words“My players are very good, but I can’t ask too much of them. They play in the Chinese League, and the general level is simply not as high as in the American League,” China coach Jun Wang.* *
Next matchdayWednesday, 13 August 2014 (all times local)
Group C (Toronto and Edmonton) *
Korea Republic-Mexico, 20:00
Nigeria-England, Edmonton, 18:00
Group D *(Toronto and Edmonton) *
Costa Rica-New Zealand, 17:00
Paraguay-France, Edmonton, 15:00