The first round of fixtures from the Women’s World Cup is done and dusted. There’s been plenty of goals, favourites have rubber stamped their positions, along with a couple of shocks and new stars in the making. Here we take a look at the key talking points of the last week.
This week’s winners
United States: Where else could we start? The tournament favourites ran riot with a 13-0 annihilation of Thailand, scoring six goals in the last 16 minutes. Unsurprisingly, that’s a new World Cup record win in both women’s and men’s football. The excellent Alex Morgan scored five and assisted three for good measure.
France: The hosts kicked off the tournament in style with a 4-0 thumping of South Korea. Two of their key players got in on the act, with a goal and assist for Eugénie Le Sommer – who now has 11 goals in her last 11 matches – and Amadine Henry – whose goal was sublime.
South Africa: They became the first African side to score the opening goal of a Women’s World Cup match against a European side since 1999. They led Spain through the exciting Thembi Kgatlana and held on until the last 20 minutes. But Spain were given two penalties that were both converted by Jenni Hermoso – more on that later.
Argentina: The Argentinians took on 2015 runners-up and 2011 winners Japan having never so much as earned a World Cup point. They’d also never kept a Women’s World Cup clean sheet and conceded an average of 5.5 goals per match. But the unfancied side did superbly to keep the Japanese out and earn a 0-0 draw. This was the only goalless match of the first round of matches, and only the seventh ever in Women’s World Cup history.
Italy: Up against a much-fancied Australia, Italy looked up against it when Sam Kerr opened the scoring. But they bounced back to win 2-1 through a Barbara Bonansea double. This match proved possession to be irrelevant given Italy had just 36% of the ball and got out-shout 16 to 6, but still won.
Stars of the Round
Cristiane: In the absence of star player Marta, Cristiane well and truly stepped up. She opened the scoring against Jamaica with a superb header then finished it off with a sublime free-kick. Her hat-trick firmly establishes her as the star of week one.
Sydney Schneider: This might sound strange given her team lost 3-0, but the 19-year-old Jamaica goalkeeper was superb against Brazil. She saved a – admittedly weak – penalty and made a string of saves that kept the scoreline respectable. But she was given no chance with any of Cristiane’s finishes.
Barbara Bonansea: Italy may have been heavily outplayed, but Bonansea popped up with two late goals to seal a famous win for Italy. She first pounced on a poor defensive mistake and showed good composure to coolly finish for the equaliser. Then she won it with a close-range header after more poor Australian defensive efforts.
Wendie Renard: The defender scored two headers to give France the perfect start to the tournament.
My predictions!: Without blowing my own trumpet, players I predicted to be key to their teams all performed in round one. The French duo of Le Sommer and Henry, Kerr, Bonansea and Kgatlana all got themselves goals to begin the World Cup. While Alex Morgan could already have the Golden Boot wrapped up.
This week’s losers
Nothando Vilakazi: What was she thinking? Spain’s second penalty overturned South Africa’s 1-0 lead. And it was awarded for a bizarre stamp on an opponent’s thigh after she’d won the tackle. Truly bonkers.
Australia: Sixth in the world rankings, The Matildas suffered a shock opening defeat to Italy. Australia’s women had never scored a Women’s World Cup penalty… and still haven’t after Sam Kerr’s miss. However, she did turn home the rebound. They have a big test up next as they face Brazil.
Tournament Debutants: Chile, Jamaica, Scotland and South Africa all lost their very first World Cup matches. Scotland put up a good fight against England, losing 2-1, and Chile did well to hold Sweden until the 83rd minute, eventually losing 2-0.
Finishing: I’ve enjoyed watching the competition this week, there have been some really enjoyable matches. However, some of the shooting on display in the Women’s World Cup thus far has been pretty weak. The obvious example is China, who wasted a whole host of clear-cut chances before going down to Germany. While Cameroon missed a sitter of a header that could have earned them a point against Canada.
The football keeps on coming as the second round of Women’s World Cup group stage matches kick-off on Wednesday. The big match to look out for is Australia v Brazil on Thursday.