2015 Womens World CupThe two teams each from Groups A & B have emerged as round-of-sixteen qualifiers after the conclusion of Monday’s four matches at three venues; Winnipeg, Moncton and Montreal. Germany had a rather easy passage in Group B as they defeated Thailand 4-0 at Winnipeg. In the second Group B match at Moncton, Ivory Coast gave a hard time to Norway before losing 1-3 to the Scandinavians. Although Germany and Norway have equal points, Norway had to remain content with the second place in Group B because, Germany are better-placed on goal-difference basis.

The first match on Monday was a Group B match at Winnipeg, where Germany took on Thailand. The Europeans went into attack straightaway and should have scored in the opening minutes if the Thai goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing had not produced a spectacular save to deny Germany’s Melanie Behringer. To their credit, the Thai women also launched counter-attack on the German goal in the first 20 minutes. Kanjana Sung-Ngoen capitalised on an error by German defense but slowed down in the end to lose her chance. Germany took a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute, when Melanie Leupolz scored from a looping header from the corner kick. The Germans made more attacks but ended the halftime with the 1-0 lead. 10 minutes into the second half, Germany dominated play and Lena Petermann scored twice in a space of 2 minutes. She made it 2-0 in the 56th minute and 3-0 in the 58th. The Germans the 4-0 rout in the 73rd minute, when an unmarked Sara Daebritz tapped into an open goal.

In the other Group B match at Moncton later, Norway beat Ivory Coast 3-1 but not before the opponents had given the Norwegian women a hard time. Regardless, Norway sealed their place in the round-of-sixteen behind Germany on goal difference. Norway took an early 6th minute lead, when Ada Hegerberg fired a steeply angled shot into the goal. The 19-year old Hegerberg could have scored another goal shortly afterwards but Ivory Coast goalkeeper Cynthia Djohore, made a great save. The teams went for the break at 1-0 and when they came back, Hegerberg scored again in the 62nd minute to take Norway’s tally to 2-0. The Ivorians battled hard and reduced the deficit to 2-1, when Ange Nguessan’s solo run ended in a great goal for them. Norway found their third goal, when veteran midfielder Solveig Gulbrandsen scored in the 67th minute.

In the Group A match at Olympic stadium Montreal, Canada drew 1-1 with Netherlands but still advanced to the knock-out phase. Canada’s Ashley Lawrence scored from 15 yards in the 10th minute and they held on the lead until three minutes from the final whistle. In between, the Canadians played forcefully and came close to scoring on several occasions. Lawrence was a live-wire and threatened the Dutch defense several times. Canada survived a chance; when their goalkeeper Erin McLeod pulled off a fine save to deny Manon Melis in the 84th minute. But three minutes later, Netherlands’ Kirsten van de Ven equalized to deny match victory to the hosts. However, Canada sailed in to the round-of-sixteen.

Another Group A match between China and New Zealand ended in a 2-2 draw at Winnipeg. But like Canada, China also confirmed their berth in the round-of-sixteen while New Zealand were eliminated from the competition. New Zealand were the first to open the scoring, when Rebekah Stott hammered into the goal from a corner kick. China could have equalized in the 34th minute after Wang Lisi’s free-kick looked like sailing into the goal. But New Zealand’s Betsy Hassett was judged to have handled the ball. From the ensuing penalty, Wang made no error and scores were level at 1-1 at halftime. After the break, China took 2-1 lead in 64th minute from a header by Wang Shanshan. Four minutes later, however, New Zealand equalized yet again. Hannah Wilkinson received a cross from the left flank and she made no mistake in hammering home decisively. China had another solid chance in the 75th minute but Wang Shanshan shot wide with an open goal in front of her. The drawn game yielded a point each to both sides but that was not enough for New Zealand as they exited the 2015 FIFA women’s World Cup.