There will be only 1 British team in the round of 16 of the on-going Women’s World cup holding in France. England defeated 2011 champion Japan 2-0 to advanced into the next round as Group C winner with 9 maximum points. Scotland Women, on the other hand, was knocked out of the tournament in a dramatic manner, having played out an entertaining 3 all draw against Argentina Women. With the result, Scotland finished at the bottom of Group C with just 1 point.
SCOTLAND 3-3 ARGENTINA:
Scotland women had already made history by qualifying for the showpiece for the 1st time ever. Their reward was a juicy Group C draw that saw them paired with British counterpart England, 1-time champion Japan and South America stalwart Argentina.
Things didn’t start the way the Scots would have loved though, a back-to-back 1-2 losses to both England and Japan meant that the last group match against Argentina is a must win and convincingly if they were to reach the last 16. The team needed inspiration and boy! they got one from one of the legend of the sport, Sir Alex Ferguson. Scotland manager Shelley Kerr revealed at a press conference that she was contacted by the great Scot Sir Alex, and he was complimentary about the team.
Whatever tips that Sir Alex gave Kerr certainly worked for about 70 minutes before things went south for Scotland. They started well and got the needed opener in the 19th minute through Kim Little. The Scots looked on course into the last 16 (ahead of Nigeria who lies in wait for a favourable result to advance too) when they got 2 2nd-half goals in the 49th and 69th minutes respectively through Jenny Beattie and Eric Cuthbert. However, the Scots got complacent and things began to fell apart from the 74th minute. Argentina pulled a goal back through Milagros Menendez and another via Scotland goalkeeper, Lee Alexander’s unfortunate own-goal in the 79th minute. VAR then played a crucial role in the dramatic late equalizer. Argentina was awarded a penalty kick, which was missed by Flor Bousegundo, and just like in previous games Italy-Jamaica & Frace-Nigeria, VAR called for the spot-kick to be retaken because of the goalkeeper’s infringement, this time Bousegundo made no mistake to even the scores at 3 all.
Heartbreak for the Scots as they finished bottom of the group with a lone point and were knocked out of the group stage. With the result, whichever team that emerges victorious in the Group E tie between Cameroun and New Zealand is most definitely going to join China, Brazil and Nigeria as 4 of the best 3rd-placed team in the round of 16, and if Cameroun-New Zealand ended in a draw, then a winner in the Group F encounter between Thailand and Chile will have the slot despite their huge goal deficits.
JAPAN 0-2 ENGLAND:
Ever since the English women team busted unto the world stage by coming 3rd out of the last FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, defeating perennial rival Germany 1 nil, they have not looked back, they have climbed up the ladder to 3rd on FIFA’s Women rankings. Now, with the stakes raised so high, a group stage exit would be a catastrophe with other Group C(Japan, Scotland and Argentina) teams lurking.
They started the tournament with a statement of intent, winning their 1st 2 matches against Scotland and Argentina to secure a round of 16 passage. However, the last group match against Japan was equally important as the group’s top spot was at stake. Manager Phil Neville reiterated the team’s desire to keep winning and promised to set up a strong lineup against the team that defeated them in last world cup semifinal, Japan.
England surely keen for revenge and they made sure with a 14th-minute lead, Ellen White got to the end of a Georgia Stanway’s through the pass. England slightly edged possession and should have been 2 or 3 goals up, but Japan’s Ayaka Yamashita was handy for his team going into the break. England eventually got their 2nd goal in the 2nd half, Ellen White completed her double in the 84th minute to wrap up victory for England.
9 maximum points(3 wins out of 3 matches) for the 3-Lionesses going into the round of 16, with Japan finishing 2nd in the group with 4 points.
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