The first day of play-offs saw double women’s World Cup champions Germany sailing through to the quarterfinals with a 4-1 victory over Sweden. China also joined Germany in the last eight after they eased off Cameroon 1-0. The Germans are being considered as favorites and they justified that tag in the match against Sweden. The 4-1 score-line, however, is deceptive because Sweden didn’t collapse. Instead they gave Germany a hard time. If Germany won in the end, their victory was attributable to a focused and disciplined performance. In the other match, China struck an early goal, when Wang Shanshan scored in the 12th minute and they held on until the end. Debutants Cameroon tried hard to get the equalizer but China’s rich experience paid off. Sweden’s elimination from the 2015 World Cup coincided with the star player Therese Sjogran also announcing her retirement. The 38-year old Sjogran was Sweden’s most-capped player, who represented her country in four World Cups, a record unmatched by any woman footballer from Scandinavia.
In the first knock-out game in Ottawa’s Lansdowne Stadium, Germany crossed a major hurdle by defeating Sweden 4-1 and inched one step closer in their quest for the third World Cup trophy. The German women went into attack early but missed a slew of chances until Anja Mittag found the target in the 24th minute. Mittag was quick to intercept a poor pass from the Swedish defense and linked up with Celia Sasic. The two women kept the ball with them with Mittag finally shooting hard past Sweden’s goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl to put Germany 1-0 up. Sweden also attacked the German goal but couldn’t convert their chances. In the 36th minute, Germany doubled their lead from a penalty award after Mittag was brought down in the goal area. Celia Sasic took the spot-kick and Germany went 2-0 ahead. Moments before halftime, Sweden had a chance to pull one back but Sofia Jakobsson’s header went over the crossbar. After the interval, Germany continued to dominate with higher ball possession and enhanced their lead to 3-0, when Celia Sasic headed into the empty goal in the 78th minute after Simone Laudher’s shot hit a Swedish defender and the deflection fell in Sasic’s way. Sweden reduced the deficit to 3-1 in the 82nd minute, when Therese Sjogran’s free-kick found Linda Sembrant, who made no mistake in heading home. Sweden got another chance but Sofia Jakobsson’s powerful strike was saved by German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer. Two minutes from close, Germany scored their fourth goal, when Dzsenifer Marozsan’s angular strike arced over a diving Lindahl and found the top corner.
In the second match, China defeated tournament debutants Cameroon 1-0. The match was played in a high-tempo from the very start and Cameroon threatened the Chinese all through the match. China, however, banked on their experience and remained resilient. China earned a corner in the 12th minute and as the floating kick came to Li Dongna, she created some space and centered the ball to Wang Shanshan, who smartly shot into the goal. Cameroon missed a great equalizing opportunity in the first half, when a free-kick taken by Gaelle Enganamouit got deflected from the wall of players and fell into the path of Gabrielle Onguene. But Onguene could only find the side-netting. After halftime, the match continued at the same brisk pace and China found some close scoring chances but they couldn’t convert. Cameroon also came strikingly close to equalizing but the dangerous Enganamouit headed wide. Two minutes later, another Enganamouit header struck the crossbar even as the Chinese goalkeeper was beaten. In the end, China came through on the strength of that early goal and Cameroon made their exit from the World Cup.