Defending champions Japan were the first to cruise through to the Round of 16 of the women’s FIFA World Cup on Friday, June 12, 2015. Though the defeated Cameroon 2-1, the world champions had to fight hard, despite taking an early 2-0 lead against their Group C opponents at BC Place stadium in Vancouver. In another Group C match at Vancouver, Switzerland crushed Ecuador 10-1 and created several records in the process. In Winnipeg, the Group D match between Sweden and USA ended scoreless but it wasn’t a drag for the viewers. Despite the 0-0 score-line, the two sides engaged the viewers until the regulation time. In another Group D match of the day at Winnipeg, Australia defeated Nigeria 2-0. The Group D is being termed the ‘Group of Death’ and the four teams are now fascinatingly poised in trying to forge out their places in the round-of-sixteen.
The action of the day began at Winnipeg in the Group D match with Australia taking on Nigeria. In the 29th minute, Aussie captain Lisa De Vanna tore through the Nigerian defense by running in the middle before finding Kyah Simon at the right spot. Simon expertly lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and Australia went into a 1-0 lead. The rejuvenated Australians launched more attacks on the Nigerian goal. But the Nigerian women also composed themselves and brought the play in the Australian goal area for a while. There were two genuine attempts on Australian goal. Oparanozie was the first to prepare for a powerful shot but goalkeeper Lydia Williams took the ball away from her foot in a great sliding challenge. Moments later, Nigerian Ngozi Okobi attempted an ambitious shot from long-range but that sailed high. In 68th minute, Australia doubled their lead, when Samantha Kerr sent a lofted cross that found Kyah Simon. For the second time, Simon found the target and completed a 2-0 win for Australia. In their next match Australia take on Sweden on Tuesday.
While Australia were playing at Winnipeg, Switzerland had their Group C match against Ecuador at Vancouver. After their 0-1 loss against Japan in the earlier match, Switzerland routed Ecuador 10-1 to register their first win in the World Cup. The first goal was a gift for the Swiss as Ecuador fullback Angie Ponce scored an own goal in the 24th minute. Ponce got one back for Ecuador in the 64th minute but gifted another own goal in 71st minute. After Switzerland’s Aibougan scored in the first-half injury time, Fabienne Humm found the target three times in the 47th, 49th and 52nd minutes for a record-breaking 5-minute hat-trick. Another Australian Ramona Bachmann also scored thrice in 60th, 61st and 81st minutes. The final score-line of 10-1 equaled the most goals in a match to the one in 2007, when Germany had beaten Argentina 11-0.
At Winnipeg, USA and Sweden were locked in goalless draw to make things hot for both teams in Group D. USA were a dominant force for most times but the Swedish women played bravely to create their chances. The game was played at a fast pace and there were no boring moments despite the 0-0 finish.
The Group C match at Vancouver confirmed Japan’s entry into the round-of-sixteen, when the defending champions beat Cameroon 2-1. Japan began with an early lead, when Aya Sameshima picked up a cross from Nahomi Kawasumi and scored in the 6th minute. Eleven minutes later, Japan doubled their lead, when Aya Miyama sent a corner kick for the perfectly positioned Yuika Sugasawa, whose clean header found its mark. After taking the 2-0 lead, Japan began controlling the match and did not concede many opportunities for Cameroon. Regardless, the brave African women fought, when they could. Cameroon continued to push forward and there was a near riot at the Japanese penalty area in the 71st minute, when Cameroon nearly reduced the deficit but Ajara Nchout and Gabrielle Onguene missed the target in one weak moment for Japan. On the verge of fulltime, however, Cameroon found the consolation goal and Japan finished 2-1 winner and their women broke into joyous on-field celebrations.