THE DAY REPLAYED - After two highly entertaining matches, the semi-final line-up of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016 is complete. Mexico were on the verge of a shock win over three-time champions USA but succumbed to a heart-breaking defeat in a dramatic finale, while Germany’s dream of defending their title was dashed by a strong France side.
USA 2-1 Mexico
Germany 0-1 France
Goal of the day
Germany-France (Delphine Cascarino 16’)
This goal was not only decisive, it was also a thing of beauty. Playing a short corner, France’s captain Cascarino collected the ball from Louise Fleury, stormed into the box and fired an unstoppable drive high into the far corner. Germany’s goalkeeper Carina Schluter could only look on helpless as it flew by.
Substitutes strike: That USA prevailed on Friday afternoon to reach the last four was down to the impact of their substitutes. Kelcie Hedge and Ally Watt entered the fray midway through the second half and both found the net to turn the game in USA’s favour. It was another example of coach Michelle French’s knack for making inspired substitutions; in the group game against New Zealand, Watt also scored just minutes after coming on to seal a 3-1 victory.
Family first: The last-eight clash against Mexico was a very special encounter indeed for Sabrina Flores. After sitting on the bench for the previous three games, the Stars and Stripes defender made her first appearance of the tournament, against none other than bitter rivals Mexico, who had her twin sister Monica in their line-up. During the 90 minutes, the two Flores appeared to put aside all the fuss concerning the “battle of the sisters”, but after the final whistle and USA’s dramatic last-minute win, they both let their pent-up emotions out. The inconsolable Monica wept uncontrollably as she collapsed into her sister’s arms, while Sabrina, instead of celebrating with her team, attempted with all her strength to console Monica. It was evidence of an unbreakable family bond.
Chavas’ wondersave: Anna Gerhardt came close to scoring a screamer of her own against France, only to be denied in spectacular fashion. France’s Mylene Chavas used all of her agility to tip the Germany left-back’s drive from distance onto the crossbar, leaving Gerhardt, and the spectators watching at the Sir John Guise Stadium, shaking their heads in disbelief.
5 – Friday’s quarter-final between Germany and France was the fifth time that the two nations have met at a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Only Germany and USA (seven) have played one another more often at the tournament.
“I spoke to the girls and reminded them that we put in a great performance and can depart with our heads held high. Sometimes luck plays a part in football and we didn’t have any today. Mexican football has improved enormously. A lot of people said we wouldn’t get out of the group. The coach is really proud of us because we never stopped fighting. We have a bright future ahead of us.”
Nancy Antonio, Mexico captain
Tuesday 29 November
Korea DPR-USA, 16.00 (Sir John Guise Stadium)
Japan-France 19.30 (Sir John Guise Stadium)
(All times local)