WWC 2015: Best and Worst of Match Day 10 – Group D

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Our daily guide to the best and the worst of today’s Group D action in the 2015 Women’s World Cup!

The Best and Worst of Group D!

What Happened

The Matildas progressed to the Round of 16 where they will face Brazil in a World Cup dream match! The USA did enough – albeit not as easily as many expected – to move on to the next round and are set to take on a yet to be determined third place qualifier. Sweden is left to face a nervous wait as they rely on the remaining results going their way to move on.

The Australians headed into the match against Sweden knowing that a draw against the 5th placed team in the world would be enough to see them move on to the next round. Coach Alen Stajcic left the starting line-up unchanged after their victory over Nigeria and the Aussies started exactly where they left off dominating play and looking the better of the two teams.

Their efforts were rewarded after just five minutes when Laura Alleway lofted possibly the most accurate pass in the history of football over the Swedish defence right into the path of Captain Lisa De Vanna who neatly slotted past the ‘keeper to give the Aussies a perfect start. Sofia Jakobsson equalised just ten minutes later with a classy individual effort to beat Lydia Williams for a 1-1 final score.

Stajcic was true to his pre-match comments and continued to push forward looking for the winner bringing on Michelle Heyman and Larissa Crummer. Both teams had their chances to seal the match in an end-to-end 45 minutes but neither squad could find a telling strike.

The United States also progressed with a 1-0 win, eliminating the Nigerians in the process. The only goal in the match went to veteran Abby Wambach for Team USA in what was an evenly matched opening period. The Americans nearly doubled their advantage early in the second period through Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan but Nigerian keeper Precious Dede kept them in the match.

Life got much harder for the Super Falcons with twenty minutes to go after Sarah Nnodim brought down Sydney Leroux just outside the Nigerian box which saw her pick up her second yellow and leave the Super Falcons with ten players. Despite having the player advantage the Americans still could not find their way through a gutsy Nigerian defence and the match ended 1-0.

The Super Flacons can head home with their heads held high in the confidence that a strong performance against the US and an excellent 3-3 draw against footballing powerhouse Sweden will ensure they won’t be underestimated on an international stage again.



Standout Performance

Elise Kellond-Knight and Caitlin Foord were the stand-outs for the Aussies. Kellod-Knight had a commanding performance in the centre of the park effectively screening in front of the back four and providing effective distribution to the midfield and attackers. Foord as usual provided excellent enterprise down the right flank using her speed to repeatedly get in behind the Scandinavian defence.

Special mention goes to Larissa Crummer who made her first appearance for the Matildas in a major tournament off the bench holding the ball up well and laying it back to the midfield providing effective second-phase attack.

It was a case of the veterans taking change for the United States with superstar striker Wambach’s volley from a Rapinoe corner all there was to separate them and the Super Falcons. Rapinoe was also a shining light for Team USA and twice nearly sealed the victory in the second period.

Needs Work

The only criticism to level at the Matildas was their reaction to the Sweden goal. When the Scandinavians drew level the Matildas immediately panicked and for a period of about 15 minutes forgot what the game plan was. The slick touch and passing play that has seen them become one of the most entertaining teams at the competition went out the window to be replaced by panicked lobbed balls up to the strikers which were predominately ineffective. If they go behind against Brazil as counter-intuitive as it seems composure will get them back into the match.

The USA have been disappointing throughout the tournament thus far despite getting the results they need. Realistically a team that entered the competition as one of the red-hot favourites really should have been able to seal the game against Nigeria.

Sweden also need to find the back of the net more often. They scored the lowest amount of goals in their qualification process relying on their strong structure and defence to get them through. That’s no longer enough, you can’t win without scoring.

What Next

Getting through the Group of Death was the easy part for the Matildas as they now face Brazil next Monday for a spot in the quarter finals. Stajcic and his troops will have a tough match ahead of them but they can be heartened by their performances so far and a Brazil victory is by no-means a foregone conclusion in a massive match-up for the young Aussie squad.

Australia has faced Brazil in the past two World Cup with a 3-2 quarter final loss in 2007 followed by a 1-0 group stage defeat in 2011.

American will have to wait until the end of the group fixtures to find out their opponent. Their match will take place on Tuesday morning and will face a yet to be determined third place finisher from either Group B, E or F. Sweden also now play the waiting game and if results go their way they will line up against either Germany or Canada as a third place qualifier.

Goal of the Day

Call it bias if you like but the Alleway-De Vanna goal was a masterpiece. The vision from Alleway to spot the run of De Vanna combined with the unbelievably accurate pass is a play that will surely make the tournament highlight reel. De Vanna still had work to do but the maturity and compose displayed by the veteran allowed her to make the finish look easy.

Missed Goal of the Day

There will be no Miss of the Day recorded as Abby Wambach’s goal was missed by every Australian tuned to the Matildas game and really should be seen. Rapinoe’s corner was a nightmare to deal with, firing rapidly towards the back post where it was met spectacularly with a jumping volley from Wambach. If you didn’t watch the highlights above go back and watch them now, it’s worth it.

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