On the second day of the Women’s World Cup, games from Groups A, B and C were on display featuring teams such as Olympic Gold medalists Canada, Switzerland and European powerhouse Spain.
Many key moments occurred throughout these three games, so let’s recall on what happened on day two.
Nigeria vs Canada:
The first of three games saw fellow Matilda Group B opponents Nigeria and Canada fight it out at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. The Canadians started strong, controlling possession and keeping Nigeria in their own half with captain Christine Sinclair going for goal in the ninth minute but deflected by Nigeria’s Osinachi Ohale to settle for a corner.
Nigeria slowly grew into the game with a shot from Ifeoma Onumonu outside the box, only to be parried out by Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Both sides were going back and forth with shots from Canada’s Jordyn Huitema and Nigeria’s Debroah Abiodun missing the target. A miskick by Sheridan almost led to a Nigeria goal, however Vanessa Gilles’ last-ditch defending kept the scores level into half-time.
Within the first two minutes of the second half, Sinclair fell down in the Nigeria penalty box due to contact from Francisca Ordega. Although a penalty was not called initially, referee Lina Lehtovaara was called to the screen with the conclusion there was a foul and Canada were awarded a penalty.
Sinclair was the one to step up to take the penalty where if she scored, she would become the first player in the history of the men’s or women’s game to score in six World Cups. However, this wasn’t the case as Nigeria’s goalkeeper and captain Chiamaka Nnadozie came out with a massive save to keep it even. Nnnadozie’s goalkeeping heroics continued to show as she was able to make a comfortable save after a shot by Evelyne Viens.
Nigeria’s Uchenna Kanu came very close to scoring with Sheridan preventing a certain goal with a big save in the 80th minute. In the final moments, Deborah Abiodun was shown red after a dangerous tackle on Ashley Lawrence. Despite the red card, it did not affect the score where it remained a goalless draw.
Philippines vs Switzerland:
The Philippines headed into their first Women’s World Cup game against a tough opponent in Switzerland at Dunedin stadium. The Swiss dominated possession and were challenging the Philippines’ defence with early chances from Geraldine Reuteler, where Filipina goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel was called into action.
Big chances for both teams to score just after the 30-minute mark as Katrina Guillou was able to score for the Philippines but was disallowed due to an offside call. Just a couple minutes after the disallowed call, Switzerland’s all-time scorer Ana Maria Crnogorecevic was in prime position to give Switzerland the lead but miskicks it.
Jessika Cowart’s challenge on Coumba Sow led to VAR checking if there was a possible penalty in the 43rd minute. After some deliberation, referee Vincentia Amedome awarded Switzerland a penalty giving them a goal-scoring opportunity.
Paris-Saint Germain forward Ramona Bachmann was the one to take the penalty for Switzerland which she scored giving the Swiss the lead going into the half-time break. Bachmann also became Switzerland’s top scorer at the Women’s World Cup with four goals, going ahead of Fabienne Humm.
Switzerland continued to dominate the game throughout the second half and was able to double their lead in the 64th minute through Seraina Piubel who slotted into the back of the net after a double save from McDaniel. Piubel also became the second-youngest Swiss to score at Women’s World Cup, second only to Eseosa Aigbogun.
With those two goals, Switzerland claimed the three points in their opening match putting them at the top of Group A.
Spain vs Costa Rica:
The first game coming out of Group C saw World Cup favourites Spain take on Costa Rica at Wellington Regional Stadium. Spain completely controlled the possession from the get-go with numerous chances to get into the lead which included a header from captain Ivana Andres forcing Costa Rica goalkeeper Daniela Solera to make a save.
The first goal for Spain came in the 21st minute where Esther Gonzalez’s squaring ball caused an own goal by Valeria Del Campo Gutierrez as she failed to clear her lines. Shortly after, Spain doubled their advantage in the 23rd minute with Aitana Bonmati slotting it into the bottom left corner after some shifty dribbling to get her shot away.
Spain continued pushing for more goals and finally got their third in the 27th minute with Esther Gonzalez striking the ball into the back of the net after hitting the crossbar. Five minutes after scoring their third, Australian referee Casey Reibelt awarded Spain a penalty due to Fabiola Villalobos’ lunging challenge on Olga Carmona. Jennifer Hermoso was the designated penalty taker but her shot was saved by Solera preventing a four-goal advantage for the Spanish.
Solera’s penalty save sparked some momentum for Costa Rica into the second half, as she continued to make save after save not allowing Spain to extend their lead. After a long time recovering from her injury, Alexia Putellas made her return in the 77th minute showing glimpses of what she can provide to this Spanish side. The match finished 3-0 with Spain currently sitting at the top of Group C.