We’re now into the second round of fixtures in the Women’s World Cup as Group A took to the stage for a second time, while Germany and Spain went head-to-head in their second games of the tournament respectively.
It’s been enticing stuff so far and, as is the now the norm, we weren’t disappointed with another day of WWC action as the 2019 edition presented us with some more mouthwatering clashes to get our teeth sunk into.
Nigeria 2-0 South Korea
It was do or die for both these sides after coming up short in the opening matches of their World Cup campaigns.
After losing to France 4-0 in the curtain raiser, South Korea knew they had to pull something out of the bag if they were to keep their dreams of progressing from the group stage alive. Unfortunately, luck was not on their side as defender Kim Do-yeon volleyed past her own goalkeeper after half an hour to give them a mountain to climb.
A lofted ball over the top in the centre circle was attempted to be brought down by Do-yeon, but her miscontrol only guided the ball beyond her own keeper.
Having been marginally the better side up to that point, South Korea continued to push for an equaliser, believing they had it in the second half only for a strike to correctly be ruled for offside by the finest of margins.
The points were wrapped up for Nigeria with 15 minutes to go as a wonderful counter attacking move ended with Asisat Oshoala out-muscling the defender, rounding the goalkeeper and finishing into the net from an acute angle.
Wednesday’s result all-but ends South Korea’s hopes of qualifying from the group, while Nigeria know victory over France in their final game will see them progress to the knockout stages.
Germany 1-0 Spain
Germany made it two wins out of two at the World Cup as they claimed a narrow win over Spain in Group B.
In a first half were Spain were in control of possession, Lucia Garcia spurned a glorious opportunity to put her side in front against the FIFA-ranked second best side in the world, as she placed her effort wide when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Silvia Meseguer was next to miss the target, firing wide when found in space on the edge of the box.
Spain were made to rue those squandered chances as Bayern Munich midfielder Sara Dabritz’s scrappy finish from close range handed the German’s the advantage on 42 minutes. Captain Marta Torrejón failed to clear a loose ball in the box, and her hesitancy was capitalised on in the cruelest of ways.
The goal sparked Germany into life in the second period, as they had the pick of the chances, yet Spain will point to a contentious decision by the referee not to send Verena Schweers off after she deliberately fouled the onrushing Garcia as the last defender.
In torrential rain, neither side could find a second goal with Germany now requiring a monumental collapse to stop them progressing through to the knockout stages.
France 2-1 Norway
A VAR-awarded penalty saw the tournament hosts overcome a Norwegian fightback to come within touching distance of the knockout stages.
Kadidiatou Diani was the liveliest player on the pitch in a first half where France failed to make the most of their chances. The centre forward was unplayable as she ran the Norwegian backline ragged, firing a couple of effort wide after making space for herself with some fine forward runs.
Valerie Gauvin had a tame effort collected by Ingrid Hjelmseth after an inch-perfect cross from Diani; while moments later Eugenie Le Sommer nearly got her head on a right wing delivery as France dominated.
All their hard work in the first half was not about to let up, however, as France took the lead less than one minute after the restart. A swinging cross from Amel Majri was smashed home by Gauvin, who nipped in front of her marker.
Then, calamity. Eight minutes later a fairly harmless ball was sent in across the floor from the left and French centre half Wendie Renard got her feet totally wrong, tapping the ball home as if it were deliberate.
France continued to push for a winner but were unable to record any serious chances, until Marion Torrent went down under a challenge from Ingrid Engen. Referee Bibiana Steinhaus initially didn’t award the spot kick, but after VAR check she reversed her decision and gave the penalty to France.
Le Sommer made no mistake, thumping an effort into the bottom left. The hosts saw out the remaining 18 minutes of the game relatively comfortably to put one had on the knockout stages and leave Norway’s hopes on their final group match with Nigeria.