Tuesday, January 26, 2021

USA and Sweden progress

USA beat Sweden 2-0 in tonight’s group F first place shoot out to secure top spot in the group. Sweden will also progress, but they’ll have the tougher draw as they go through as runners up. Meanwhile, Chile beat Thailand 2-0 but miss out on the knockout rounds on goal difference.

The USA started their match tonight like a house on fire – the attacking intent was there from the start as they piled forward directly from kick off. After just two minutes they won a corner on the left hand side, Megan Rapinoe jogged over to take. She whipped it in low and hard toward the near post, it went through the legs of the defender and past the keeper to Lindsey Horan who had ran in at the back post to poke the ball home.

As the half drew on, USA had chances to add to their lead but seemed very wasteful in front of goal. Whether it was a case of choosing to shoot from distance rather than pass or just poor finishing, they weren’t at their best. Sweden grew into the game more and more, they had a great chance of their own to level things up when Kosovare Asllani found herself with open space in the box. She mishit her effort and in the end, didn’t really trouble Alyssa Naeher in the Yank net.

Just the way they did in the first half, USA started the second period very quickly. They managed to get their second goal and all but secure top spot in the group just five minutes into the half as Tobin Heath’s deflected cross beat Hedvig Lindahl. There was a lengthy VAR review of the goal too as Carli Lloyd was offside in the build up. As she hadn’t touched the ball, the referee needed to determine whether she interfered with play – she eventually decided that Lloyd hadn’t interfered and awarded the goal.

USA and Sweden advance

WWC Favourites USA

All in all, it was a relatively comfortable affair for USA. They looked slightly vulnerable at the back all the way through the game, but that’s been the case for just about all of the big sides in this tournament. They top the group and take Sweden through to the KO rounds with them.

The other game tonight saw Chile beat Thailand 2-0 in Rennes. It was a truly agonising affair for Chile as Francisca Lara missed a penalty in injury time that would have sent La Roja through to the knockout rounds. They needed to win by a three goal margin but as it is, they come up just short and will be heading home alongside Thailand.

Following Cameroon’s result earlier, there were two third placed sides on three points, with a -2 goal difference. Cameroon were headed through already as they had more goals than the other team, Nigeria. Had Chile been able to get a third goal, they also would have been on three points, they also would have had -2 goal difference but crucially, they would also have had one more goal than Nigeria – meaning they would have joined Cameroon in the Ro16.

The round of 16 will see USA travel to Reims where they will face off against the ever dangerous, Spain. Meanwhile, Sweden will go to Paris where they will play the second place team from group E, Canada.

That brings to an end the group stage of the tournament. It’s been a very entertaining two weeks so far and now we’ll have a day of rest before getting started with the round of 16.

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