Germany 1-1 Norway
Germany scored nice and early. Anja Mittag got behind Norway's line in the sixth minute and it looked like Germany was off and running. Indeed, for the rest of the first half it looked like the Germans would score a couple more goals. Things sort of flipped over in the second half. Maren Mjelde put Norway level for good just past the hour mark with one of the best free kicks I have ever seen. The bending effort was so perfect, Nadine Angerer didn't even make a move to save it. She simply had no chance.
Norway proves that Germany, can in fact, be held down. I figured they would put up a fight here, but I wasn't expecting them to snag a point for themselves. The two sit level on points at the top of the group, Germany is in front by virtue of their 10-0 smack down of Ivory Coast in the first game. Expect the goals to come flying for both these squads in their final group stage games as they look to unseat the crazy goal differentials at the top of the group.
China 1-0 Netherlands
Instead of giving up late winners, this time China scores one of their own. Lisi Wang latched onto a long pass and slotted it inside the far post in the first minute of stoppage time to give China all three points. The win allows them to take a big step towards advancing to the knockout stages. China sits ahead of them on the head to head result alone. They are tied on points and every tie-breaker.
Ivory Coast 2-3 Thailand
Thailand not only scored their first goal in World Cup history, but they get three of them. Two of the three, however, were earned under dubious circumstances. Ivory Coast went ahead first. Koko N'Guessan scored for the Elephants in the fourth minute. It was the 4' 11" Orathai Srimanee with the moment for Thailand. She got on the end of a nice cross in the 26th minute to level the score at one. That was the one legitimate goal. Srimanee got her second on another good cross, but she looked to have been a little offside when the pass came in. The third Thai goal was even worse. Thanatta Chawong headed the ball in after it fell through four Ivorian defenders and their keeper. That wasn't the shady part though. The pass before the cross was played to a clearly offside Andotsara Maijarern.
Being down three goals didn't stop Ivory Coast from fighting back. Jose Nahi put them within a goal in the 88th minute with a nice run though the flat footed Thai defense. They had a golden chance to earn a point right before the final whistle. In the sixth minute of stoppage time Christine Lohoues got a shot away that clanged off the cross bar. An onrushing N'Guessan thought she could tap in the rebound, but she couldn't quite connect as she fell to the turf in frustration.
This match could come up big in determining which of the third place teams advances. Three points could be enough for Thailand, if they can avoid losing to Germany by too much.
Canada 0-0 New Zealand
Canada really needs some help scoring goals. They had their chances in this one, but the final ball was just never there. Their captain and best player Chrsitine Sinclair was even having trouble with her shots. She even failed to convert on a clear breakaway. In the end, the hosts were lucky to escape with a point. In the 31st minute, New Zealand earned a clear penalty as Hannah Wilkinson was clearly knocked down in the box by Allysha Chapman. Amber Hearn's PK went straight into the crossbar to make sure things stayed scoreless. Canada still sits on top, and a point against the Netherlands would be enough to see them through, but they really need to start scoring goals if they want to become the first host nation to advance past the quarterfinals since the USA in 1999.
Groups C and D continue this afternoon and evening with four games. Things start at 5pm in Winnipeg with Australia and Nigeria. Australia was a little salty after their loss to the USA and are looking to rebound against Nigeria, who earned a shocking point against Sweden. I am calling for Australia to win with a vengeance by a 3-1 score.
At 7pm in Vancouver, Switzerland looks to get a win over Ecuador and their rec league players. Ecuador go clowned by Cameroon so I don't expect them to put up much of a fight against a far more skilled Swiss side. I'll say the Swiss win by a lot, 7-0.
Back in Winnipeg at 8pm, the USA gets back at it in what will probably be their toughest group stage match. Sweden did struggle against Nigeria, particularly on defense, so I expect the USA to score a few goals. It will come down to how well they keep the dangerous Swedish attack out of the net. They won't be able to afford the type of defensive breakdowns they experienced early against Australia if they want to win this comfortably. I will call for a USA win, but it will be a little gritty at times and end 3-2.
The nightcap is in Vancouver and it kicks off at 10pm. Japan, who could only muster a single goal against Switzerland, takes on Cameroon who hung six on Ecuador. Japan is a much different animal than the South American also rans, so don't think that Cameroon will explode for more goals. Japan wins a close one hear, 2-1.