With the conclusion of group-stage matches on June 16 & 17, 2015, the round-of-sixteen line up has emerged with clarity in the 2015 FIFA World Cup for women at Canada. Ecuador from Group C and Nigeria from Group D were the two unlucky teams that have made their exit. The teams that will have a longer stay in Canada are; Japan, Switzerland and Cameroon from Group C and USA, Australia and Sweden from Group D. In Group C, Cameroon defeated Switzerland but both teams made it to the knock-out phase. Ecuador had a close game with Japan in Group C but they lost 0-1 to bid goodbye to the 2015 World Cup. Same was the fate for the Nigerians, who also suffered a 0-1 loss against USA in Group D. The biggest winners were Colombia in Group F and Netherlands in Group A, whose entry to round-of-sixteen was dictated by the match between Switzerland and Cameroon. Switzerland’s loss allowed them an automatic entry to the play-off phase without touching the ball. In Wednesday’s Group E match, Korea edged out Spain 2-1 and while Korea entered the round-of-sixteen, Spain made their exit. The two other teams to miss the knock-out bus; were Costa Rica and Mexico. After rest days on June 18 & 19, the play-off phase begins on Saturday June 20, 2015.
On June 16, 2015 at Winnipeg, Japan beat Ecuador 1-0 take top spot in Group C. Ecuador played creditably to restrict Japan to just one goal after losing by huge margins in their earlier matches. Though Japan dominated the play, they couldn’t score further after the 5th minute goal by Yuki Ogimi. As Ecuador left the field after the final whistle, they were happy to have given their best performance of the 2015 women’s World Cup.
In other Group C match at Edmonton, Switzerland lost to Cameroon 1-2. Despite taking the first half 1-0 lead, the Swiss women were pressed hard by Cameroon after halftime and lost the match. In the 24th minute, Ramona Bachman barged into the penalty area and passed the ball to Ana Maria Crnogorcevic, who scored from near the penalty spot. In the second half, Cameroon made a strong comeback and found an equalizer, when Gabrielle Onguene aimed from 18 yards and the ball went in. After the equalizer, Cameroon mounted more pressure on Swiss goal and succeeded in forging ahead 2-1 in the 62nd minute, when Madeleine Ngono Mani scored from a close-range header. With the result coming in Cameroon’s favor, both teams made it to the round-of-sixteen.
In Wednesday’s first Group D game at Vancouver, USA defeated Nigeria 1-0 to enter the last 16, while the Nigerians made their exit. In the first half, USA’s Abby Wambach successfully converted a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe in the 45th minute to take her team ahead 1-0. Nigeria did their best to draw level but in the 69th minute, Nigeria were down to 10 women when Sarah NNodim was shown her second yellow card for bringing down Sydney Leroux. USA rode on their numerical advantage and finished 1-0 winners in the end.
In the last Group D match at Edmonton between Australia and Sweden, the match began with Australia’s Laura Alleway sending a smart long pass for Lisa De Vanna, who ran down and put her team 1-0 ahead in the 5th minute. The sudden goal jolted Sweden, who began dominating the play and equalized in the 15th minute, when Sofia Jakobsson, whose brilliant strike from 20 meters found the target. No more goals could be scored by either side in the remaining period though Sweden dominated large part of the match. Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams was brilliant in denying the Swedes twice in a minute. In the end, the drawn game took both teams to the knock-out phase.
On June 17, France beat Mexico 5-0 at Ottawa to top Group F. In less than a minute from the start, Marie Laure Delie scored an opportunistic goal and France never looked back after that. France benefitted from an own goal by Mexico and took a 4-0 halftime lead. The Frenchwomen kept the momentum even after the break but could score only once. In a Group E match at the same venue, Korea sent Spain out of the World Cup with a 2-1 comeback victory. Spain dominated the first half and took the lead, when Veronica Boquete scored in the 29th minute. After halftime, the Koreans turned the tables on Spain by goals from Cho Sohyun in the 53rd minute and Kim Sooyun in the 78th minute.
In a Group F match at Montreal on the same day, England scored twice in the first-half and though Colombia pulled one back in the injury time, the 2-1 victory gave a knock-out berth to England. The result made no difference for Colombia, who had already qualified. In the last Group E match at Moncton, Brazil beat Costa Rica 1-0 and finished at the top while Costa Rica made their exit from the women’s World Cup.