By MATT STYPULKOSKI
Despite scoring just two goals in three matches, the Canadian women’s national team has topped Group A and booked its spot in the Women’s World Cup knockout rounds.
The Canadians clinched first place with a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands on Monday night at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
Canada controlled the opening half, which was marked by Ashley Lawrence’s 10th minute strike. But despite having the better of the play, the Canadians were never able to double their advantage and the dangerous Dutch counterattack made them pay when Kirsten Van De Ven equalized in the 87th minute.
Still, the draw was enough to put Canada atop the group. As a result, the hosts will face the third place team from either Group C, D or E in the Round of 16. That match will be played on June 21.
For the Netherlands, a draw was enough to finish in third place. The Dutch team’s four points will likely be enough to enter the knockout stage, though the Oranje will be forced to wait and watch the scoreboard the next two nights.
Here’s a closer look at Monday’s other Women’s World Cup results:
GERMANY DISAPPOINTED DESPITE WIN
Most teams don’t walk away from a 4-0 victory with a sense of disappointment, but the Germans aren’t the average squad.
The world’s No. 1 ranked team left Winnipeg shaking its head, despite the fact that the win ensured a first-place finish in Group B. The Germans finished level on points with Norway, but easily secured the group due to their plus-14 goal difference.
Melanie Leupolz struck first in the 24th minute, but it took another 32 minutes before the Germans could double their lead on a goal from Lena Petermann.
The second goal helped open things up for the Germans, as Petermann found the back of the net again two minutes later and Sara Daebritz capped the scoring in the late stages of the match.
“We’re not going to make anything out to be better than it was — I think we can chuck that first half in the garbage,” German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer said, according to ESPNW. “We played a bit better in the second half, forced the goals to come but we’ve got to be clear about it. We can’t play like this again. Against stronger opponents in the knockout stage, we’d get knocked out playing like this, so this mustn’t be repeated.”
Though Thailand wrapped up the group stage with a minus-seven goal difference, it still stands a chance at advancing as a third-place finisher thanks to the three points it picked up against the Ivory Coast earlier in the round.
HELPED BY QUESTIONABLE PENALTY, CHINA DRAWS NEW ZEALAND
China fell behind, but rallied to tie New Zealand 2-2 on Monday night in Winnipeg thanks in part to a poor penalty decision.
The Football Ferns took the lead in the 28th minute behind a Rebekah Ashley Stott goal, but the Chinese were gifted a game-tying penalty on a phantom hand-ball call in the final minutes of the first half.
Replays showed that the ball never struck the hands of Betsy Hassett, though her arms were raised away from her body as she took it down with her chest.
Wang Lisi converted the penalty and China traded second-half goals with New Zealand to secure the draw, which put them second in Group A and safely into the knockout rounds.
The Chinese will play the second-place finisher from Group C on June 20. The Ferns, meanwhile, have seen their World Cup campaign come to an end.
NORWAY DOWNS IVORY COAST
Just a few days after picking up an improbable point against Germany, Norway clinched a place in the Round of 16 with a 3-1 win over the Ivory Coast in Moncton, Canada.
The Norwegians tied Germany on points, but will advance as the second-place team due to goal difference. As a result, they will face the second-place finisher from Group F on June 22.
Ada Hegerberg was the driving force for Norway on Monday, netting a brace in the win. Solveig Gulbrandsen added a third in the 67th minute, before Ange Nguessan got once back for the Ivory Coast inside the final 20 minutes.
What did you think of last night’s matches? Which team impressed you most? How will the Group A and B qualifiers fare in the knockout rounds?
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