2015 FIFA World CupDespite putting up a better show, Norway exited from the 2015 women’s World Cup as heroic efforts from England left them in the lurch. In the first match at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Stadium on Monday June 22, 2015, the first half remained scoreless but Norway dominated play. Nine minutes after the break, the Scandinavians went 1-0 ahead. But England struck twice in 61st and 76th minutes to win the match and enter the quarterfinals. In Edmonton’s commonwealth stadium on the same day, United States had to bring out their best performance against strong-willed Colombian women, who refused to yield until halftime. However, concerted efforts from the Americans resulted in an early second-half goal and another came, when USA earned a penalty. On Tuesday June 23, 2015, defending champion Japan also eased through to quarterfinals by beating Netherlands 2-1 at BC Place stadium in Vancouver. The four semifinal berths in the women’s World Cup will be decided next Friday and Saturday; June 26 & 27, 2015. On Friday, Germany will take on France at Montreal and China and USA will fight it out at Ottawa. In Saturday’s two matches, Australia will play Japan at Edmonton and England take on Canada at Vancouver.

In Monday’s first match, the first half between England and Norway ended goalless but Norway looked a better team in making more goal-ward moves. In two distinct chances for Norway, Isabell Herlovsen missed one, thanks to a brilliant save by England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley. Ada Hegerberg had an even better chance, when she stole the ball as England defenders erred with a sloppy back-pass but Hegerberg couldn’t control her shot as it went straight to Bardsley. In the 54th minute, Norway earned a corner and Solveig Gulbrandsen produced an almost perfect header that hit the underside of the crossbar first before sailing into the goal. But Norway’s lead didn’t last long as England equalized in the 61st minute. It was a corner again, to which England captain Steph Houghton rose to her full height between two defenders and headed in successfully. The 1-1 score brought the game alive and in the last 20 minutes England dominated the attack. In 76th minute, Jill Scott and Jodie Taylor played in tandem as they moved ahead towards Norway’s half. They saw Lucy Bronze moving as well and passed the ball to her. Bronze produced a superb 25-yard shot that crashed into the goal to give England a 2-1 win and a place in the quarterfinals.

At Edmonton on the same day, USA faced the hard-nosed Colombians, who fought as if their lives depended on the match. Colombia defense thwarted all attacking moves made by the Americans. After the first half ended scoreless, Colombia’s goalkeeper Catalina Perez was red-carded early in the second half for a foul against Alex Morgan. But USA’s Abby Wambach couldn’t convert the ensuing penalty. With Colombia’s goalkeeping considerably weakened, the balance tilted in favor of USA. In the 53rd minute, Morgan put USA ahead as she drilled through the hands of new goalkeeper after receiving a pass in the penalty area. The rejuvenated US team attacked the Colombian goal more menacingly and earned another penalty in the 66th minute, when Megan Rapinoe was brought down by Angelo Clavijo in the penalty area. Carli Lloyd made no errors as USA took a 2-0 lead. This was also the final score. USA will meet China on Friday for a place in the semifinals.

In the only match played at Vancouver on Tuesday, Japan defeated the Netherlands 2-1. The defending champions showed their superiority with a finely controlled game from the start. They attacked with great coordination and defended well. It was apparent that the Dutchwomen were clueless against their superior opponents. Regardless, the first goal-scoring opportunity came Netherlands’ way but a 20-meter shot from Sherida Spitse sailed over the bar. The forceful Japanese, however, took the lead in 10th minute, when Saori Ariyoshi shot into the goal after a header from Yuki Ogimi struck the bar and rebounded in her path. Despite other genuine efforts from Japan, the first half ended at 1-0. After the break, Japan continued their dominance but Netherlands also came close to scoring on a few occasions. Japan doubled their lead in 78th minute, when Mizuho Sakaguchi shot from the edge of the penalty box. In the injury time, Netherlands found a consolation game, when Van Den Ven headed the ball in even as Japan’s goalkeeper missed a straightforward save. For a place in the semifinals, Japan will have to beat Australia on Saturday.