We wondered whether there would be goals once more, as the second group games took place. We got great goals, some early qualifications to the quarter finals, and some really exciting games, with a lot for the female coaches (Jill Ellis, Pia Sundhage, Silvia Neid and Vera Pauw) to ponder.
Canada 3-1 Zimbabwe (Beckie 7’, 35’, Sinclair 19’) (Chirandu 83’)
Canada are safely through to the quarter-finals with a comfortable win over Zimbabwe. The damage was done all in the first half, with three goals sealing Zimbabwe’s fate. The Olympic newcomers are out, but their two goals in two games, will give them heart, as well as experience.
USA 1-0 France (Lloyd 63’)
Time and time again, France do exactly the same against their closest rivals. Start well, miss opportunities, the opposition finally settle, take their chance, and France lose the game. France had 14 shots to USA’s 8, but yet again in a major competition fell short. It was that woman again Carli Lloyd who broke the deadlock for Jill Ellis’ side. Credit certainly must go to Ellis and her defensive selection and organisation. Hope Solo also made a huge contribution on her 200th cap, with a match-winning performance. The US are only winning by small margins, but they are also not conceding. Columbia in their final game, should ensure easy qualification.
Germany 2-2 Australia (Daebritz 47’, Bartusiak 88’) (Kerr 6’, Foord 45’)
A surprise result really for Silvia Neid’s team, who must now rely on beating in-form Canada for the top spot of Group F. Australia stunned their opposition with Kerr and Foord before half time. A noticeable absence was Germany’s retired striker Sasic, as they were predictable and seemed to have any Plan B, C or D. It took a little bit of magic with a stunning finish from Daebritz with the outside of her foot to get them back in the game. Australia had chances to further their lead. But Silvia Neid’s side showed their experience. Behringer’s free kick, with two minutes to go, was eventually bundled in by Bartusiak. Germany managed to damage limitation, but are going to have to do much better to bring Silvia Neid their first Olympic trophy in her final competition.
South Africa 0-2 China PR (Gu 46’, Tan 87’)
Vera Pauw’s side have a lot to do to make it through to the quarter-finals, with just the hosts Brazil left to play. They fell foul to two goals, one from Gu just after half time, and a 40-yard spectacular from Tan to seal the score line. Again, South Africa held on in the first, but couldn’t hold on. Against Brazil in their final game, it will be difficult to get any points, and even more difficult to qualify, but you cannot fully rule out qualification. With Brazil already through, maybe the hosts will bring their foot off the gas.
Columbia 0-1 New Zealand (Hearn 31’)
After both these teams suffered defeat, this game was a must-win for both sides. Amber Hearn in the first half secured the tight win, against a much-improved Columbia side. Columbia facing the USA will be the ultimate challenge, whilst a France desperately needing 3 points after their defeat, will make New Zealand’s qualification from Group G far from easy.
Brazil 5-1 Sweden (Beatriz 21’, 86’, Cristiane 24’, Marta 44’, 80’) (Schelin 89’)
Brazil simply cannot stop scoring, running riot against Pia Sundhage’s Sweden Their frailties came to forefront once more, having even more destructive consequences than the South African game. The hosts did not hold back, demolishing the opposition, who simply had no reply. Schelin got a consolation but it was too little, too late. Brazil sail through to the quarter, whilst Sweden can still go through, but have to put in a strong performance against China. There are lots of critics of Pia Sundhage, saying that her time is up after two under-performing tournaments. Nobody can doubt her experience, so it remains to be seen whether she can pull Sweden from the ashes and save their final game.
The final games are on Tuesday, with quarter-finals awaiting those who finish in the top two in Group E, F and G.
Bio: Emily Hassall is an English Durham University (UK) History Student as well as a football / soccer player who has played left wing for 13 years. Emily has been a Level 1 coach for the last 4 seasons and helped build a girls setup at Woodkirk Valley FC, a club in Leeds (UK). It started with just 8 girls and now has over 50 across four age groups! Emily has also been a referee for 5 seasons, she is an avid Manchester United fan and a keen watcher of all things women’s football.