As Europe woke up this morning, the ball was already in play at the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the second morning – or evening, depending on where you are on the globe.
To kick things off, yesterday saw Australia beat Ireland 1-0 with Chelsea striker Sam Kerr on the bench for the Aussies after sustaining an injury in training, and New Zealand claimed a shock 1-0 win against Norway, the first World Cup win in their nation’s history. After the hosts yesterday, today saw 6 teams in action.
First up, if you were awake to catch it, Canada and Nigeria faced each other at 3:30am BST. The game ended in a goalless draw, but there were chances missed to get onto the score sheet, with Canadian star Christine Sinclair missed from the penalty spot, meaning she’ll have to wait a little longer to become the only player to have scored at six World Cups. The game ended with a twist, as Deborah Abiodun (Nigeria) saw red for a foul. The Nigerian goalkeeper was the player of the match, helping her country gain a vital point, and keep the hope of making it out of their group alive.
Shortly afterwards, Switzerland took on debutants the Philippines. The latter thought they’d scored from an excellent long ball down the pitch, but it was promptly ruled out for offside. After that, the Swiss had the upper hand throughout. They struggled to make their chances count, but when they were finally gifted a penalty at the end of the first half for a foul on Coumba Sow, Ramona Bachmann neatly put it away. Seraina Piubel scored a second after half time, and that sealed the deal for Switzerland.
Finally, at 8:30am it was the turn of Spain as they faced Costa Rica. A large proportion of the Spanish players play in Spain in the professional league, and some of them won the Champions League earlier this year with Barcelona. In comparison, the women’s league in Costa Rica is semi-professional. The difference in resources between the two teams was apparent from the get-go. Costa Rica defended very well for the first twenty minutes, deflecting shots and making some superb tackles. However, it was only a matter of time with the quality Spain possess, and once they got one goal, two more followed quickly. They didn’t hit the back of the net in the second half though, with the game finishing 3-0 to Spain, and Costa Rica’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages for the first time are not over yet.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is well under way, and the action continues in the early hours of the morning when the defending champions USA play Vietnam. At 8 o’clock, Zambia take on Japan, and at a more reasonable time of the morning, European Champions England, our Lionesses, will make their start to the World Cup when they play against Haiti at 10:30am. Not forgetting the other two nations in England’s group, Denmark and China will play just after that at 1pm.