WWC 2015: Best and Worst of Match Day 4 – Group F

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

What Happened

The best and worst of Group F

France ran out deserved 1-0 winners against a hardworking but lacklustre England side, Eugenie Le Sommer’s first half strike the difference on miserable afternoon in Moncton.

Meanwhile, spoils were shared in the battle of the Latin outsiders: the draw giving both sides a huge mountain to climb in order to achieve qualification.

England have not beaten France since 1974 and that trend is set to continue after Mark Sampson’s side failed to threaten the tournament dark horses.

In truth, this was a fistfight of a game that passed with little incident, the sole highlight Le Sommer’s excellent goal.

Midway through the first half, Basset was caught on her heels with centre half Steph Houghton out of position, allowing Thiney to nip the ball away for Le Sommer who drove at goal and unleashed a powerful drive that beat Karen Bardsley at her near post.

It was symptomatic of England’s display – far too slow on the ball, too ponderous in possession. They were duly punished.

Clear chances were at a premium with Mark Sampson abandoning his 4-4-2 for a more conservative 4-5-1. On another day it might have paid dividends – the likes of Necib and Thomis were expertly contained and hardly had a sniff at goal.

Unfortunately for England their poor loss of concentration meant they were largely architects of their own downfall. Plan A had been scuppered and for all of England’s energy and hard closing they never looked like creating half a chance.

You felt as though England were hanging on – and instructed to do so – from the opening whistle, and never found either the creative impetus to get back into the game or the pace and intensity to cause the French backline problems.

Even the attacking introductions of Duggan and Kirby had little effect on the game, nor the tactical switch back to 4-3-3. England mustered just one shot on goal during this entire period – a speculative long range effort from the hardworking but poorly supported Aluko, which sailed over the bar.

France meanwhile were happy to sit on their 1-0 advantage. Philippe Bergeroo has proven himself to be canny operator at this level and this pragmatic approach laid the groundwork for a ruthlessly efficient display.

Goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi was seldom tested and the defence, expertly led by Renard and Georges, is one that will prove tough to break down for any opposition.

Yet, there remains ground for improvement. Louisa Necib barely had a whisper bar a free kick that was comfortably dealt with and Elodie Thomis’ pace struggled to cause England genuine concern.

Clashes with the European heavyweights to come meant a win for Colombia or Mexico was almost essential for both side’s qualification hopes.

There was a lively pace to this affair in contrast to the previous with Mexico eager to get forward from the off. The attacking trio of Corral, Perez and Ocampo combined well with the latter two orchestrating the bulk of Mexican possession.

Yoreli Rincon found the net on ten minutes but was correctly ruled offside. She continued to threaten the Mexican goal, coming close on two occasions.

Colombia tried to impose their physicality on their more diminutive opponents but not even their rotational fouling – 13 before half time – could stop Mexico from breaking the deadlock first.

Veronica Perez took the ball short of a corner and her early cross caught Castano off guard: flailing arms knocked the ball off the crossbar and in, with goal line technology playing a crucial role.

Mexico sustained their first half assault shortly after the break with Mayor finding the run of Cuellar with the pass of the game.

Colombia again found the back of the net through Montoya but this time the referee spotted a foul in the build-up. It was a harsh decision: both Montoya and Miranda were grappling for possession – very much six of one, half a dozen of the other.

As the second half drew to a close it looked like Mexico would hang on for a vital win but Daniela Montoya popped up on the edge of the area to score the goal of the tournament so far. It was an outstanding strike that pinged off the underside of the crossbar to rescue a point for the Colombians.

There was one last chance for Corral who slid the ball under Castano in stoppage time but the referee denied the goal and in doing so, denied Mexico their maiden World Cup victory.

Stand Out Performers

Eugenie Le Sommer was the one of the solitary shining lights in a game lacking in quality. Her superb first half strike will win her many plaudits but it was her selfless work off the ball that epitomized the French grit. She also was involved in the game’s best passing moves, dropping deep to get on the ball and looking to make things happen. A fantastic all-round display from the undisputed player of the match.

There was plenty of South American flair on display when Colombia took on Mexico. The Mexican duo of Corral and Mayor caught the eye especially, both controlling the game in vital moments for El Tri. Mayor, normally a creative midfielder in the number 10 role, led a midfield that were not afraid to get their hands dirty.

Charlyn Corral underlined her importance to the Mexican cause. At times the sole outlet up front, she battled an aggressive Colombian defence and linked up play with the dangerous Mexican wingers. At times a class above others on the pitch, her tenacity and work-rate set the example for the rest of the team to follow and she was unlucky not to have stolen it for Mexico at the death.

Yoreli Rincon drifted in and out of the game for Colombia but there were obvious moments of quality that, perhaps on another day, would have turned the result in her nation’s favour.

Talking Points

Whilst goal-line technology was on the side of the Mexicans for Perez’ first half strike, El Tri will feel wronged after Corral’s stoppage time goal was disallowed for a foul during the build-up. Similarly, Colombia will feel hard done by after Montoya’s effort was ruled out for a foul on Mexican centre-back Miranda. A case of what might have been for both.

Was Camille Abily lucky not to be sent off for France? It appeared as though she planted a sly and deliberate elbow on Laura Basset who was visibly sporting a bruised eye afterwards. If the referee had spotted it, it may well have been a red card offence.

Should retrospective action be taken against Abily?

What it Means

Today’s Group F results mean that minnows Colombia and Mexico will probably have to beat one of the European heavyweights to qualify. Similarly, England will be out for a win in the next match day against Mexico to make sure of qualification whilst France would seem assured of qualification already, barring a massive upset.

Needs Work

England sought to scrap it out with France, which they succeeded in doing, but they never looked like creating a genuine goal-scoring opportunity.

Even with 20 minutes remaining and three forwards on the pitch, it was France who looked the more likely scorers – and they were mostly content on holding their 1-0 advantage throughout.

Jordan Nobbs, who could add some much needed thrust from midfield, and Lianne Sanderson, who will add some much needed presence up front, are just two of the possible changes Mark Sampson has at his disposal.

They will surely need to call upon some attack-minded changes in the coming games against poorer opposition.

In a similar fashion to the Japanese performance yesterday, France appeared to play within themselves, expertly holding the English at arm’s length but for the most part failing to threaten themselves.

Bergeroo’s conservatism in killing off the meagre England won his side the points in Moncton but it will not give them wins against superior opposition. It also meant that Louisa Necib’s creative output was restricted – and if France are to go far in this tournament they need her on the ball as much as possible.

It was the kind of performance that a better side would punish them for, and like Japan, Bergeroo’s women will need to step up their intensity or risk an early exit.

Both Colombia and Mexico will need to summon the performance of a lifetime when they face the group heavyweights next match day. There will no room for ill-discipline or momentary lapses in concentration. Both goalkeepers will need to be more assertive and confident with crosses in order to produce the momentous upset these sides need.

What Next

France will take on Colombia on June the 13th whilst England will accept nothing less than a win against Mexico – also the 13th.

Goal of the Day

Daniela Montoya’s superb strike takes not only goal of the day but possibly goal of the tournament so far. A textbook thwack. Their first ever Women’s World Cup goal too, no less.

Miss of the Day

On a day devoid of any blunders we’ll plump for the extraordinary mistake by Colombian goalkeeper Stefany Castano. Assuming that the ball, mishit by Mexican midfielder Nayeli Rangel, was on its way to Row Z, she quickly turned to demand a new ball to take the goal kick. What she didn’t realize was that the ball was very much still in play and had Monica Ocampos been onside things could have got very embarrassing indeed for the young goalkeeper.

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