More Round of 16 action at the Women’s World Cup continues this weekend with the winners of Group E the Netherlands facing off against South Africa. As well as two juggernauts of the women’s game will be battling it out, with Sweden going up against the USA.
Who will make it through to the quarter-finals? Let’s have a look at who gets knocked out and who will continue their journey at this year’s World Cup.
Netherlands vs South Africa:
After a big result in their last group stage match where they knocked out Italy, South Africa will aim to continue this trend against the Netherlands at the Sydney Football Stadium. The Oranje controlled possession from kick-off and they had an early chance at goal from Esmee Brugts in the eighth minute where her curling effort was pushed over the bar by Kaylin Swart.
Following Brugts’ effort, Sherida Spitse’s corner was able to find Lieke Martens in the box where her header was cleared off the line by Lebohang Ramalepe. Although her clearance went as far as Jill Roord who was standing on the goal line and headed into the back of the net, scoring her fourth goal of the tournament and putting the Netherlands in the lead nine minutes in.
Despite conceding, South Africa showed the Dutch how dangerous they can be on the counter-attack. Thembi Kgatlana was a constant when South Africa attacked, as she was able to get in behind the defence and get her shots off quickly. But Netherlands keeper Daphne Van Domselaar was able to save her efforts at goal, keeping their lead intact into half-time.
Martens scored in the 54th minute but her goal didn’t count due to Victoria Pelova being in an offside position during the build-up of the goal. The Netherlands eventually scored their second through Lineth Beerenstyn; where with no hesitation, she took her shot and found the back of the net with some luck with Swart making an error.
Therefore, the Netherlands progress into the quarterfinals where they will face Spain back in Wellington on Friday.
Sweden vs USA:
Two of the best nations in women’s football are on centre stage; with the world number one USA and world number three Sweden battling it out at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium to see who will advance to the quarter-finals. The first ten minutes of this game were back-and-forth with the U.S. defending well against the Swedes each time they went into their attacking third.
The reigning world champions looked comfortable in possession as the first half progressed and in particular, Trinity Rodman who came back into the starting line looked lively on the right-hand side making it difficult for Sweden’s left-back Jonna Andersson. In the span of ten minutes, Rodman had three shots with two of them being on target forcing saves out of Zecira Musovic in the 18th and 27th minute respectively. USA captain Lindsey Horan almost found the breakthrough in the 34th minute where her header was denied by the crossbar and the scores remained level going into the break.
Zecira Musovic continued to show her goalkeeping quality in the second half, where she pulled off one of the saves of the tournament after a shot from Horan in the 53rd minute.
Sweden struggled offensively and registered their first shot on target in the 85th minute from substitute Sofia Jakobsson where Alyssa Naeher responded with a strong save. Shortly after Musovic pulled off another spectacular save against Alex Morgan in the 89th minute and eventually, the game headed into extra time.
The first half of extra time saw the Americans continue to dominate possession and have better chances at goal with Alex Morgan and Lynn Williams testing Musovic, but still couldn’t get past the Chelsea shot-stopper. The second half saw the same from the USA with Williams once again going for goal, as well as Julie Ertz but Musovic continued to display her goalkeeping heroics and therefore this match headed into a penalty shootout.
Sweden and USA scored their first two penalties and the drama began in the third round of the shootout where substitute Kristie Mewis was able to score for the U.S. but Nathalie Bjorn’s penalty went over the bar.
Three missed penalties followed after with Megan Rapinoe’s going over the bar, Rebecka Blomqvist’s saved by Naeher and Sophia Smith’s falling wide of the goal.
Hanna Bennison took Sweden’s fifth penalty determining whether it went to sudden death, where she was able to compose herself and score. Alyssa Naeher and Magdalena Eriksson both scored their penalties but, Kelley O’Hara struck the post and missed her spot kick.
All the pressure was on Lina Hurtig to seal the win for Sweden and after taking her kick, Naeher was able to get a glove on the ball and insisted she made the save. After some deliberation with VAR, it was concluded the ball crept over the line meaning Sweden won the shootout eliminating the world champions in the process. Sweden will play Japan next in the quarter-finals on Friday in Auckland.