Photo Credit: Matt King – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Australia have kept their FIFA Women’s World Cup dream alive with a 2-0 victory over Denmark in Sydney, as they advance to the quarter-finals.
A packed Stadium Australia was on hand as the co-hosts scored once in each half to see off the challenge of the Danes, who failed to seriously threaten despite enjoying large spells of possession throughout.
A classic counter attack in the 29th minute gave the Matildas their opener. Mary Fowler showing outstanding vision and execution to thread a through ball into the path of Catilin Foord – the forward making no mistake, slotting the ball through the legs of Lene Christensen as the 75,784 inside Stadium Australia erupted.
With Denmark pushing for a way back into the tie, Australia found more and more opportunities to exploit the space and with twenty minutes remaining, found their crucial second.
Foord was at the heart of it again, finding space on the left and a pass through to Fowler – the ball eventually finding Emily Van Egmond, whose lay-off was expertly directed into the far corner by Hayley Raso.
There was one last reason for cheer amongst the home support as superstar striker Sam Kerr made her long awaited return from a troublesome calf injury to get her first minutes of the competition. An exciting development as her side look ahead to a quarter-final tie against France or Morocco at the weekend.
Australia: 2 (Caitlin FOORD 29′, Hayley RASO 70′)
European champions England overcame going down to 10 players to defeat Nigeria on penalties in a tense Round of 16 encounter in Brisbane.
Lauren James – so influential in her side’s impressive win over China in their final group stage match – was initially shown a yellow card by referee Melissa Borjas but a VAR check confirmed she had intentionally stamped on her opponent and the card was duly upgraded to red.
Nigeria has started the brighter of the two sides and came within a whisker of opening the scoring, when Ashleigh Plumpte’s thunderous drive from the edge of the area beat Mary Earps only to smash off the crossbar.
England themselves looked to have been given a golden opportunity to take the lead when referee Borjas pointed to the spot after Rachel Daly went down in the box. A VAR consultation however, led to the rescinding of the decision – Daly deemed to have gone to ground too easily.
Despite James’ 87th minute sending off, Nigeria couldn’t find a way to unlock a well disciplined English backline and after 120 minutes, penalties were to decide matters for the second consecutive Round of 16 match.
Regular taker Georgia Stanway hooked her effort wide for England, only to watch as Desire Oparanozie produced an almost carbon copy miss.
It proved to be England’s only miss however, as after Michelle Alozie smahed her attempt over the bar, all subsequent spot kicks were converted, with Chloe Kelly sealing victory and booking a quarter-final date with either Colombia or Jamaica later in the week.
England: 0 (4)
Nigeria: 0 (2)