The round of 16 continues at the Women’s World Cup with Group B winners and co-hosts Australia finally back in action as they face off against Denmark, as well as Group D winners and current European champions England will go up against Nigeria.
Who will claim their spot in the next round? Let’s have a look and find out which teams do.
England vs Nigeria:
The Lionesses enter the round of 16 hoping to continue their unbeaten run against Nigeria at Brisbane Stadium. The game was moving from one end of the pitch to the other, and both teams looked to find the breakthrough early with Nigeria testing the English defence through Michelle Alozie’s header but was blocked in the 13th minute. Former England youth product Ashleigh Plumptre had two shots at goal with one of them rattling the crossbar and shortly after her shot targeting the bottom left corner was saved by Mary Earps.
A defensive error by Blessing Demehin in the 23rd minute could’ve been costly for Nigeria, where Alessia Russo was able to spot Chiamaka Nnadozie off her line but was able to recover and make the save. Five minutes after, Rachel Daly’s volley was bound for the back of the net but the Nigeria captain responded with a comfortable save.
In the 31st minute, Daly went down in the box and England was awarded a penalty. But after a lengthy VAR check, the penalty was reversed after there was no foul committed by Rasheedat Ajibade.
The Super Falcons looked to score the opener once more, with Ajibade going for goal but a last-ditch tackle by captain Millie Bright was able to block her shot and fell into the path of Christy Ucheibe where her shot was blocked as well, leaving the scores level into half-time.
Early in the second half, Uchenna Kanu was unfortunate not to score after a cross was floated in and her header hit the woodwork keeping England in this contest. The Euros winners had chances from Hemp, Russo and Daly to go into the lead, but still couldn’t find the back of the net. Nnadozie continued to solidify the Nigerian defence after a double save in the 76th minute where she had to deal with chances from Daly and Russo.
Substitute Asisat Oshoala had a chance for Nigeria’s first after a Lauren Hemp turnover but her shot flew over the bar. There was some late drama towards the end of normal time, with Lauren James showing some frustration towards Alzoie stomping on her back after not receiving a free-kick. Initially, she was given a yellow for her actions but after another VAR check it was changed to a straight red and England had to play with 10 women going into extra time.
The first half of extra time saw Nigeria with the best chance at goal where substitute Jennifer Echegini laid it off to Alozie on her left-hand side and shanked it wide. The following 15 saw both sides have potential game-winning chances with Oshoala having a shot at goal in the 117th minute but it was straight at Earps. A free-kick in the 119th minute taken by Alex Greenwood was able to reach the head of Beth England, where it fell into the path of Bright who couldn’t get the crucial touch to challenge Nnadozie and this game headed into a penalty shootout.
Georgia Stanway was the first to step up for England where she missed her penalty falling wide of the goal. Nigeria’s opening penalty from Desire Oparanozie was basically a carbon copy of Stanway’s, keeping the scores level. Beth England was able to put England in the lead in the shootout, but the following penalty by Michelle Alozie’s had too much power on it and flew over the bar. Daly, Ajibade, Greenwood and Ucheibe all scored their spot kicks and all the pressure was left on England’s final penalty-taker. Chloe Kelly took the crucial penalty and slotted it in confirming England’s place in the quarters where they will face either Colombia or Jamaica on Saturday.
Australia vs Denmark:
After a strong display against Canada in their last group-stage match, Australia will aim to keep the momentum going into their opening knockout game against Denmark at Stadium Australia. The Danes put the pressure on the Matildas early with a shot on target from Katrine Veje within the first minute. Rikke Marie Madsen was very close to scoring the opener in the ninth minute but didn’t have enough contact on the ball to get it on target. Pernille Harder caused problems for the Australian defence throughout the first half but she as well could not get the ball to hit the back of the net.
Despite Denmark holding most of the possession, the Matildas managed to find the opener in the 29th minute where Mary Fowler was able to spot the run of Caitlin Foord with a piercing through ball past the Denmark defence. Foord ran towards goal and was able to slot it through the legs of Lene Christensen and into the back of the net, putting Australia a goal up into the break.
In the 57th minute, Harder was able to find herself some pact outside the box to get her shot off but Mackenzie Arnold responded with a comfortable save. Australia had many opportunities to find the second goal through the likes of Emily Van Egmond and Alanna Kennedy. But it was Hayley Raso who doubled the Matildas’ advantage in the 71st minute. Starting from Fowler who picked another pass through the defence to find Van Egmond laying it off to Raso, who slotted it past Christensen.
A massive roar from all the Australian supporters at Stadium Australia as Sam Kerr came onto the field in the 80th minute, making her return to the Women’s World Cup stage after the calf injury she sustained prior to the tournament.
With another win secured, the Matildas will have to wait until Saturday evening to play the winner of France and Morocco in their quarter-final matchup.