There were flags flying, faces painted, bands playing, and thousands of fans from all over the world gathered at the Investor’s Group Field to watch group stage action of the Women’s World Cup. Winnipeg played host to four Group D soccer matches that featured the United States, Australia, Sweden and Nigeria as well as match from Group A, B, and C.
Nigeria and Sweden kicked off the “Group of Death” action in entertaining fashion. Sweden held a 2-0 lead going into the first half but Nigeria rallied with two quick goals at the 50th and 53rd minute. Linda Sembrant replied seven minutes later to give the Swedes a 3-2 lead. Nigeria provided a dramatic finish in the 87th minute when Francisca Ordega shot the ball through the Swedish keeper’s legs to help push the Nigerian team to a 3-3 draw.
A swarm of American fans crossed the border to watch their star-studded U.S. Women’s National team play their first two games of the tournament. One of the tournament favorites, the US team started off strong in front of a pro-American crowd. Megan Rapinoe powered the U.S. with a goal in each half to beat the Australians 3-1.
In the second day of Group D action, Nigeria looked to continue their surprising start against the Aussies. Battling a quick Nigerian team with an energetic fan base, a loss by Australia would almost eliminate them from the tournament but Kyah Simon led the way with two goals for a 2-0 Australian win.
In a battle between the 2nd rank United States and 5th rank Sweden, both teams failed to solve each other’s goalkeeper leading to a 0-0 draw. Sweden came close to getting on the board when Caroline Sweger’s attempt at the 77th minute came close to crossing the goal line but was headed away by American defender, Meghan Klingenberg.
The American team would close off Group D action in Vancouver with a 1-0 win over Nigeria to win the group and advance to the next stage. Australia and Sweden tied 1-1 in Edmonton which meant that Australia advanced having beaten Nigeria in the group stage.
Winnipeg soccer fans got a chance to see some new squads as Germany took on Thailand and China faced New Zealand. Germany used their size to hold off a resilient Thailand team scoring 3 of 4 goals on headers. Substitute Lena Petermann scored twice in the span of three minutes to give Germany a 4-0 landslide victory.
The People’s Republic of China needed a draw to advance from Group A. Backed by a section of Chinese fans clad in red, China’s Wang Lisi scored on a questionable penalty call near the end of the first half to tie the game. China took a 2-1 lead but New Zealand’s Hannah Wilkinson levelled the game 2-2 five minutes later. The game ended in a 2-2 draw but more importantly helped China move through to the next stage.
On the final day of group stage games in Winnipeg, defending champion Japan edged Ecuador 1-0 thanks to Yuki Ogimi’s 5th minute strike. The goal would be all that Japan needed to win and help them secure first place in Group C.
Canada advanced to the second stage of the World Cup topping Group A with a win and two draws. Second stage action continues in Edmonton and Vancouver.
Photos by Star Roxas and Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal