*THE DAY REPLAYED *– In the end the big two triumphed, but it could barely have been a closer run thing on the opening day of quarter-final action at Canada 2015. Germany equalised late on in a match dominated for lengthy periods by France, before eventually prevailing on penalties thanks to Nadine Angerer’s lone block. Germany’s opponents will now be USA after they edged a tough 1-0 win over China PR to maintain their record of reaching the semi-finals in every single edition of the tournament.
*Germany 1-1 (5-4 pens) France
China PR 0-1 USA
Goal of the day
*China PR 0-1 USA, Carli Lloyd (51)
*Always one for the big occasion, midfield inspiration Carli Lloyd delivered once again when it was needed with a crucial goal just after the break. Julie Johnston lofted a cross in and Lloyd powered home a towering header that would not be out of place in any coaching manual. The match-winning strike was quite a way to celebrate a 200th international appearance.
*Memorable moments *
*A recurring theme at the tournament has been an acknowledgement to missing team-mates. Anja Mittag was the latest to do so sporting a picture on her headphones of Fatmire Alushi, with the winger withdrawing from the tournament at the eleventh hour after learning of her pregnancy. Also in attendance in Montreal was Germany 2011 star Kim Kulig working for German TV. Perhaps Kulig brought the kind of luck that Germany didn’t have at the same stage four years ago when the host nation lost to Japan against the run-of-play. Not to mention Kulig herself limped out of that Wolfsburg encounter with a serious knee injury.
Back to the future
Sixteen years on since their iconic Women’s World Cup Final showdown, USA and China finally met again at this level. That match at the end of last century ended scoreless before USA prevailed on penalties in front of a record crowd. And briefly it looked like the dearth of goals would continue until Carli Lloyd’s powerhouse header six minutes after the break. While it wasn’t quite a 90,000-plus crowd recorded at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl on that sunny afternoon, there was a typically large contingent supporting the Stars & Stripes in Ottawa, while China, as always, also were boosted by a healthy presence among the 24,141 crowd. So too, the key players of that memorable ’99 afternoon enjoyed the reunion with penalty queen Brandi Chastain tweeting a picture from the lounge-room with numerous family members in attendance, while former coach Tony DiCicco was commentating on the match for US television.
*Costly moment *
Germany’s equaliser six minutes from full time ultimately proved costly for France on multiple levels. Celia Sasic’s successful penalty pushed the game to extra time allowing the Germans to win on penalties. It also meant Germany stretched their unbeaten run in the tournament against European opposition to nine matches. Perhaps more painful for *Les Bleues *is the fact that all four teams to defeat Germany in the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup have gone on to win the tournament.
*Popular pair *
Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday are among the most popular members of the USA squad, and though they were suspended for the match, they did their best to contribute on the day. Both were a constant source of encouragement during the team’s warm-up. The pair also received a massive cheer when shown on the big screen in the stadium while watching on during the match.
5 - *This is the fifth time in seven tournaments where Germany and USA have made up half of the final four teams. Their semi-final clash will be their third meeting at that stage, but they're still yet to face off in the final.
*The words *
“Dominating the ball does not mean you win. Even though we did a great job tactically, we simply missed too many chances. I hate to lose and I feel very sorry for these players,” *France coach Philippe Bergeroo *
*Next matchday *
*Saturday 27 June (all times local)
*Australia-Japan (Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, 14.00)
England-Canada (BC Place, Vancouver, 16.30)