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  • Writer's pictureBethany Barker

Experienced Wins, Penalties and Hat-ricks

The first round of the group stage has ended with plenty of clean sheets and challenging matches being played, here's a recap with some more memorable moments of the WWC so far

Tuesday 25th July 2023

 

Day Three:

On the third day of the WWC defending champions, USA, beat newcomers Vietnam 3-0 after Sophia Smith- Portland Thorns forward- scored twice in the first half within her world cup debut and was followed up with a goal from captain Lindsey Horan who scored in the 77th minute firing the number ones in front. The world number ones held a 66% possession rate and kept the defensive pressure on Vietnam who had no shots on their goal the entire game. However, Alex Morgan's- San Diego Wave forward- penalty which followed a foul of Rodman, was saved by the Vietnam goalkeeper to help produce a defensive performance against the reigning champions. Although this was one of the higher-scoring games within the first stage, it does not mirror the last opening game of the 2019 WWC where the USA beat Thailand 13-0, demonstrating the massive increase in performance across the world for all women's teams.


Following this game, Japan became the first team to get a disallowed goal through a 23-minute VAR check, due to an offside decision, however, they soon turned their first game around with a total of 5 goals with one being an extra-time penalty seeing them get the three points over debutants Zambia. Denmark got three points over China after their 89th-minute win gave them their first WWC goal since 2007.


European champions, England gave an unconvincing win on Saturday against debutants Hati who were described before the game as, "transitional and unpredictable" by the England manager Sarina Wiegman which was shown in their exciting counter attack which caused England some trouble.


So far England are also the only team to take a knee before kickoff which shows their ongoing support of making football more inclusive by 'kicking' out discrimination of any kind. The crowd of 44, 369 fans saw player of the match, Georgia Stanway- Bayern Munich midfielder- score England's first goal of the summer through a 29-minute penalty; although this fired England ahead there had to be two penalty chances taken after Theus was seen to be stepping off her line causing an encroachment, resulting in the second penalty being scored and the three points going England's way. Hati- who is ranked 53rd in the world- were described as dangerous in attack by pundits and left the players subdued as they finished the game by struggling with pace and creativity in defence, which could be the result of losing three crucial players from the Euro 22 team. This game still attracted an audience of 4.2 million on TV surpassing the 3.7 million who watched the European final, showing the Lionesses have a strong home support this summer.

Unfortunately, this game saw Hati defender Jennyfer Limage join the list of female footballers who will miss out this summer after gaining an ACL injury being the first seriously injured player of the summer.


Day Four:

This morning's games saw the first game in the tournament so far to end without a penalty after all nine games prior having penalties, whether resulting in a goal or not; Sweden were victorious over South Africa in a 2-1 win with a last-minute winner. It also became the first group game, so far, to see both teams score. In the next game, Stefanie Van der Gragt gave the Netherlands a one-goal lead in the thirteen minutes against newcomers Portugal who pressed with high pressure early on but fell short with only 44% possession resulting in them joining Vietnam at the bottom of the group.

A historic game rounded up day four as France vs Jamaica saw a 0-0 draw and resulted in Jamaica's first points in the WWC, which they did with 10 players against Euro semi-finalists; the 39,045 fans in attendance saw a disciplined Jamaican side prevent France's 14 shots from going in. Even after Khadija Shaw- who is Jamaica's star player- was given a red card after 2 minutes of extra time after a sliding challenge on Renard near the touchline and will now miss the teams clash with Panama, the team remains confident in other strikers as they soak in the "real victorious feeling" felt by Deneisha Blackwood (player of the match).



Day Five:

The first game of the day saw Italy earn a late win over Argentina in the 87th minute after Girelli came off the bench after the Italian team were left frustrated over a defensive performance from Argentina.

Afterwards, Germany began their tournament with a comfortable win against debutants Morocco after captain and striker Alexandra Popp produced two clinical headers in the first forty-five; this is the fourth WC in a row that Popp has scored in. After two own goals- from Morocco- Germany produced a strong performance to create more chances (16 overall, with 7 on target) and hold a 74% possession rate to counter the high press of Morocco who are ranked seventy paces lower than the two-time winners.


Following their 6-0 victory Germany will be heading into their second game with more eyes on them, already being some peoples' favourites to win, however off the pitch the team are making a bigger impact within their home country. This year's German team has collectively made the decision to pledge 1% of their prize money to charities- Futbalo Girls and Girl Power- that support inclusive girls' football projects around Germany as well as highlighting the need for investments to be made to create equal opportunities for female participation in football regardless of any social and cultural backgrounds. This has come about due to there still being multiple barriers in Germany that deny girls, women and non-binary people- particularly those from more socially disadvantaged backgrounds- despite the massive growth in the women's game. Speaking about their collective decision, Lena Oberdorf- (team and euro achievements)- has stated, "We want to send a clear signal that we understand diversity not only as part of our own identity as a team, but also as an opportunity for the advancement of our sport as a whole." which highlights how the national team is helping to support the next generation of girls in Germany.

Brazil came away from their game against debutants Panama with three points after Alves Borges scored the 25th hat-rick of the WWC and was the first of this summer's tournament, all within her world cup debut. The Brazilians held a 73% possession rate throughout the game and showed their skillful play, having 32 shots on target they also showed they can press high and come out with a positive outcome using their tricks and skills. This game became the first to be referred by a British ref- Cheryl Foster- who became Wales' first World Cup referee in 45 years and saw Brazil maintain their perfect record of winning all their WWC opening games (9).



Borges completed her treble after 70 minutes by heading through the goalkeeper's legs and stated, "It was very special to get a hat-trick in my first game at a World Cup. Today is one of the happiest days of my life. I could not have imagined this in my wildest dreams. The day was full of emotions, I was emotional even beforehand. I don't think the pin has dropped yet."





Following their contributions to their teams' wins, Alexandra Popp (2) and Alves Borges (3) will both join the race for the golden boot alongside Sophia Smith (2), Hinata Miyazawa (2) and Aitana Bonmati (1).


Day Six:

Today marked the last game in the first round of the groups which saw Colombia gain their second-ever victory in the WWC in a 2-0 win against South Korea whilst demonstrating their speed and skilful footwork; they maintained this skill with a 58% possession rate and 5/17 shots on target. Colombia's first goal came from a penalty- caused by a handball- taken by Usme and the next goal was followed up by eighteen-year-old Linda Caicedo.

Caicedo is a Real Madrid player who made her world cup debut this morning with a highly skilled performance, she is also being named an inspiration for young girls after overcoming a cancer diagnosis at the age of fifteen: "I remember I was going into surgery one day, and I was feeling really bad because I thought that I was not going to be able to play football again." but Caicedo has shown her talent throughout her career, and just last year won the Silver Ball and Bronze Boot in the U17 world cup as well as being a Copa America runner-up. Today marked her first goal in the WWC, "I just try to enjoy this moment...A football player has to be focused."


Despite not gaining the three points South Korea made history with Casey Phair becoming the youngest ever player at the WWC at just sixteen who was introduced in the 77th minute to make a positive impact on the game, South Korea will be looking for the win when facing Morocco next. With a total attendance of 24,323, the end of the first round was seen out with a fantastic atmosphere.


Throughout the last six days, eight nations have made their WWC debuts (highlighted in bold in the table below) but all of them lost their opening games and were unable to score a goal. However, the first game of the second stage of the groups saw the first of the debutants to win a game, earlier today the Philippines won against co-host New Zealand with a 1-0 victory; this game saw not only their first win but their first-ever WWC goal.


Here's how the first round of the group stages ends:

​New Zealand

1

v

0

Norway

Phillippines

0

v

2

Switzerland

Australia

1

v

0

Ireland

Nigeria

0

v

0

Canada

Spain

3

v

0

Costa Rica

Zambia

0

v

5

Japan

England

1

v

0

Hati

Denmark

1

v

0

China PR

USA

3

v

0

Vietnam

Netherlands

1

v

0

Portugal

France

0

v

0

Jamaica

Brazil

4

v

0

Panama

Sweden

2

v

1

South Africa

Italy

1

v

0

Argentina

Germany

6

v

0

Morocco

Colombia

2

v

0

Korea Rep.


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