WWC 2015: Best and the Worst of Match Day 1

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Our daily guide to the best and the worst of today’s action of Women’s World Cup action. First up, Group A!

The best and worst of Group A!

What Happened

It’s Canada and the Netherlands who have come out on top after today’s first group stage matches, both securing 1-0 victories over China and New Zealand, respectively.

After a tense and goalless 90 minutes at Edmonton, it was Canada who provided the last-minute entertainment in extra time, proving they are indeed the hostesses with the mostess-es. Although the Canadians dominated most of the match there were moments of danger such as when a weak back-pass gave Chinese forward Yasha Gu a chance at goal or when Lisi Wang seemed set to score from a perfectly taken free-kick [only for the ball to appear as though it had a confundus charm on it]. Ultimately, the match was won in extra time when Chinese forward Rong Zhao fouled Canadian substitute Adriana Leon. Captain Christine Sinclair stepped up to the plate foamy line cool-calm-and-collected (no broken noses in sight), sending the ball flying past Chinese keeper Fei Wang and the 53,058-strong crowd into pandemonium.

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Meanwhile, the Netherlands have also had a story-book ending to their first 2015 Women’s World Cup match, securing a 1-0 lead by the 33rd minute. The goal came courtesy of forward Lieke Martens who gained possession of the ball on the left flank then sent the deciding shot firing past New Zealand keeper Erin Nayler. While the Kiwi’s had one good chance at goal by means of a long range shot courtesy of fullback Ria Percival, their best chances came from set pieces and they weren’t very creative in attack. Overall, the game lacked the intensity of Canada v China with neither the Netherlands or New Zealand playing particularly exciting football in the second half.

Stand Out Performers

Canadian Sophie Schmidt had a stellar performance in midfield and was voted Player of the Match. Schmidt made sure her team were in control of the centre of the pitch and ensured her Chinese counterparts didn’t see too much of the ball. We can’t leave out Christine Sinclair either with the penalty kick that saved the day. Also, notably, she did not suffer any nasal carnage as she did in Canada’s first game of the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

Next on the list is Chinese forward Yasha Gu who deserves an honorable mention for her efforts while Lieke Martens’ performance merits recognition for ensuring the Netherlands got the win and those much needed three points in their first ever World Cup match.

Talking Points

Interest in the women’s game continues to grow with both games attracting 53,000-strong crowds. What’s more, the early victory for Canada will keep momentum going and ensure continued interest in the tournament for the home nation. We’re also loving the all-female line-up of match officials – it’s ladies night!

Penalties! The one given to Canada in additional time for the win and the one not given to New Zealand which would have seen them equalise. Despite conjecture on social media, the Canadian pen was pretty rock solid, the New Zealand decision though, we’re not so sure at TFS HQ. Have a look yourself in the highlights above.

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What it Means

China will be disappointed they didn’t do better to at least keep a clean sheet against the hosts. The Steel Roses have had quite an inconsistent run in the lead up to the World Cup so the early loss may unsettle them or spur them into action for their next game against the Dutch.

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While the Netherlands will be hoping to add another three points to their tally China seemed full of fight today against Canada – both sides will be desperate for a result to build towards qualification for the knock-out rounds. Likewise New Zealand will have a big challenge ahead of them in the following game as they play Canada, who are not only the highest ranked team in Group A but who will also be high on confidence from this first win.

Needs Work

New Zealand’s confidence will have taken a beating with today’s performance marking their tenth win-less World Cup match. Although coach Tony Readings thought his side played “Okay” in the first half and well in the second half, he also said “Okay is not good enough in the World Cup”. With possession 50/50 with the Netherlands the Kiwis actually had more attempts at goal so perhaps it’s a matter of keeping composure and making more of their opportunities.

Similarly, China’s Steel Roses will need to ensure a consistent performance if they hope to qualify for the next stage with Canada out-shooting them by double.

What Next

The next group stage games are to be held on the 11th of June, once again at Edmonton Stadium. China will face the Netherlands at 4pm local time while the clash of the Commonwealth between Canada and New Zealand will unfold from 7pm. It will be a crucial game for all teams involved, potentially securing them a spot in the next round. A loss won’t be the end of the road with a number of third-placed teams also qualifying through but it will certainly make it harder.

Goal of the Day

A last minute penalty winner from a national legend or an absolute screamer to seal the points in your nation’s first ever World Cup match. Take your pick – watch them in the highlights above!

Miss of the Day

A spectacularly taken free-kick by Chinese midfielder Lisi Wang seemed to almost defy physics to not end up in the back of the net. Her shot hit the near post then ricocheted onto the other post, leaving Canadian keeper Erin McLeod feeling very lucky indeed.

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