Women’s World Cup Correspondent
The last round of group games began on Monday as the first two groups prepared for their judgment day. China progressed to the next round via the third place rankings after getting a goalless match against Spain, both of whom joined Germany in the knockout stages.
Jorge Villa, the Spanish coach, looked like he wanted to secure another win after being defeated by Germany in the last match. He played two youngsters in Lucia Garcia and Patri Giujaro up front. Meanwhile, Jia Xiuquian doesn’t change his starting eleven after winning against South Africa.
Spain pressed The Steel Roses from the whistle and even made total of 24 chances to score into Peng Shimeng’s goal. The 21 years old goalkeeper, who plays for Jiangsu Suning, was chosen as the Player of the Match after made some outstanding saves. China’s only chances during the game were blocked by the Spanish defenders.
Peng managed to frustrate the Spanish forwards as she made 6 blocks including Nahikari Garcia and Patri Guijaro’s shots from outside of the box, and Jenni Hermoso’s volley inside the area, ultimately keeping the game scoreless with her excellent performance.
While in Montpellier Germany trashed South Africa with four goals. Die Nationalelf took the lead after 15 minutes when Melanie Leupolz headed the ball through Banyana-Banyana’s net from the corner kick. Around the half hour mark, Verena Schweers sent a low through pass into the penalty box that can be saved by Andile Dlamini, but the goalkeeper doesn’t handle the ball very well so Sara Daebritz doubled Germany’s lead by getting on the end of the rebound.
Alexandra Popp scored Germany’s third goal five minutes before the half time, heading the ball into the net after getting a cross from Giulia Gwinn from the right side. Lina Magull netted the fourth in the 58th minute, capitalizing on a fatal mistake from Dlamini just three minutes after she made a perfect save for Banyana-Banyana. Germany could have actually scored more if not for Dlamini, who showed an outstanding performance, saving attempts from Sarah Daebritz in the 73rd minute and Lea Schueller in injury time, both in one on one situations
Renard Saves France While Taegeuk Nangja Say Goodbye.
There were three penalty goals in Group B’s matches as South Korea said au revoir to the World Cup after narrowly losing to Norway while the hosts France, even with a little bit struggle, defeated a Nigeria side that must rely on the third-place ranking to secure their progression to the next round.
After being defeated by Nigeria, Korean coach Yoon Dukyeo made a few changes, including handing debuts for two strikers – Moon Mira and Yeo Minji.
Norway were quick out of the gates and took only three minutes to get ahead, as referee Marie-Soleil Beaudoin from Canada pointed to the spot when West Ham midfielder Cho Sohyun fouled Maria Thorisdottir in the penalty box. Caroline Graham Hansen successfully executed the chance and Norway were in front.
Three minutes before the half time, Yeo Minji had a chance to tie the game but unfortunately, her volley inside the box only missed near the post.
Before the momentum could shift, however, Norway got another penalty on the 49th minutes as Hansen was fouled by Chang Kaerim and Isabell Herlovsen struck Norway’s second goal. Yeo finally found the net for South Korea after Lee Geummin sent a backheel pass for the debutant who missed last World Cup campaign, who conquered Ingrid Hjelmseth.
Meanwhile, the hosts France had a tough match against another African representative, Nigeria, who got their first win against South Korea last match. The Super Falcons managed to hold the host in a goalless draw by half time in Rennes but France picked up the pace in the second half. They got a chance from the veteran Gaetanne Thinney in 66th minutes, but unfortunately, she couldn’t receive the cross that was sent by Kandidiatou Diani from the right side.
It became hard for Nigeria when Viviane Asseyi was fouled by Ngozi Ebere inside of the penalty box at the 73rd minutes. Not only was the penalty given, but referee Melissa Borjas from Honduras showed Ebere her second yellow card, meaning Nigeria were reduced to 10 for the remainder of the match.
Les Bleues veteran defender Wendie Renard scored her third goal in this year World Cup campaign in the second attempts, after her first miss was given as a foul by Nigerian goalkeeper Chiakama N’Nadozie, who reacted before the penalty was taken.
The judgment day for Group C will happen tonight as debutant Jamaica meet Australia in Grenoble while Italy face Brazil in Valenciennes. The Azzurre looking for a perfect group stage performance while As Canarinhas hope for a better result after squandering a two-goal lead against Australia.