In a round-up of the opening days of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, in a tough battle against China PR, the hosts managed a win after Canadian Christine Sinclair scored from the penalty spot in injury time. In a match that could have gone either way the Canadians showed true spirit to force the decider in the dying moments in front of the 53,000 strong crowd.
Earlier on, both sides could have gone one up with Lisi Wang hitting the post off a free kick with it unluckily rebounding out off of the far post before being cleared by the Canadians. At the other end of the pitch fullback Josee Belanger was unlucky not to score after her shot cannoned off of the cross bar.
As the game went on, the Canadians pushed ahead and some desperate defending by China PR held true and it seemed that Canada were going to allow the rank outsiders to nab a point, until some spiteful play by one of the Chinese defenders in the box gave the referee no hesitation other than to point to the spot and give the Canucks the full share of the points.
In a blasé match with little imagination, a resilient New Zealand team went down to a very organised, compact Netherlands 1-0 after a wonderful strike from Lieke Martens at the 33rd minute. It was this strike that that would earn the Europeans the three points on the day and set them up for the upcoming battle against hosts Canada.
Norway came away with full points after defeating newcomers Thailand by a score of 4-0 and Germany destroyed Africa’s Côte d’Ivoire, in one of the tournament’s highest goal margins, by a score of 10-0.
Côte d’Ivoire, ranked 67th in the world and claiming the lowest ranking out of all the teams participating in Canada held a brave face and never gave up, but technically were never going to be a match for the eight time European Champions.
Germany has never lost an opening match in the World Cup and this was to be no different with the Europeans dominating from the outset and the first goal scored after three minutes through Celia Sasic, after the Africans failed to organise at the back leaving her free for the easy tap in.
Another 9 goals would find the back of the net before full time with Sasic completing a first half hat trick and Anja Mittag (Germany) rewarded with player of the match.
Norway’s Isabell Herlovsen netted two before half time to take the Europeans into the break 3-0 up against Thailand who could not match the power or strength of the Europeans who held 65% of the possession and had twenty-five shots on net , converting four.
Norway will now face Germany on Thursday and will need to improve on their game against Thailand to defeat the previous World Champions.
Ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup match between Australia and the USA both teams delivered their pre-match press conference with American coach Jill Ellis stating that striker Alex Morgan was back in full training and looking sharp for the match.
When American central midfielder Carli Loyyd was asked about the first 15-20 minutes of the game she stated that the USA would like to be leading the match at that point.
“ Hopefully we’re leading by then, we want to come out fast, we want to come out strong…we have a great game plan in place and we are going to be really ready (for the Australians),” she said.
Australian coach Alen Stajcic remarked “I don’t really care about what they (USA) think about themselves… we’re just focusing on ourselves and what we’re doing to prepare our team… we believe we can win because we have put the hard work in and we have the ability and the talent in this team to take it to them.”
Australia begin their campaign at Winnipeg stadium tomorrow 18:30 local time (9:00 AEST) and the match will be televised live on SBS.
By Paul Brown