Women’s World Cup Roundup: Sweden and Netherlands secure three points, Jamaica and France draw in thrilling fashion on Day 4

World Cup
Jamaica’s Deneisha Blackwood, top, celebrates with her teammates after the Women’s World Cup Group F soccer match between France and Jamaica at the Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, July 23, 2023. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

It’s been a frantic first few days at the 2023 Women’s World Cup! There have been thrilling games, plenty of goals, and dramatics. Day four saw European giants take on underdogs from around the world. There were late-game winners, one-goal thrillers, and an earth-shaking goalless draw! Let’s take a look back at day four!

World Cup
Jamaica’s Deneisha Blackwood, top, celebrates with her teammates after the Women’s World Cup Group F soccer match between France and Jamaica at the Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, July 23, 2023. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Women’s World Cup Roundup Day 4

Sweden score last-second winner vs South Africa

World Cup
FILE – Sweden’s Jonna Andersson runs for the ball during the women’s international soccer friendly match between Germany and Sweden in Duisburg, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Sweden came into their first Women’s World Cup match of 2023 as favorites to win Group G. However when they faced South Africa, Sweden had a bit of a rude awakening. South Africa started the game very compact. They were organized defensively and looked to frustrate Sweden into making mistakes. South Africa flustered Sweden and kept it 0-0 at halftime.

One of the more brilliant South African attacking moments came early in the second half. Good pace and perseverance saw Thembi Kgatlana get in on goal. Her shot was parried by Sweden’s Zecira Musovic, but fell to South Africa’s Hidah Magaia who hammered home the effort. South Africa led over the group favorites, with much of the second half to go.

As the second half progressed Sweden continued to pepper South Africa’s goal. They had a total of 15 shots in the match, six of which were on target. Their persistence paid off in the 65th minute. A ball was whipped into the box by Sweden’s Johanna Kaneryd and zipped past three South African defenders. The ball collided with Sweden’s Fridohlina Rolfö and went into the net to tie the game at one.

This one looked destined to end in a draw, but Sweden won a corner as the game entered the 90th minute. Kosovare Asllani sent in a beautiful cross near the penalty spot, and Amanda Ilestedt rose above all to head the chance home! It was an exclamation point for Sweden’s attack that had looked good all game, but heartbreak for South Africa who did all but secure their first-ever point at a Women’s World Cup.

Group G Standings

  1. Sweden – 3 pts | + 1 GD
  2. Argentina – 0 pts | 0 GD
  3. Italy – 0 pts | 0 GD
  4. South Africa – 0 pts | – 1 GD

Netherlands win close contest over Portugal

World Cup
Netherlands’ Stefanie Van der Gragt, second right, celebrates with teammates after scoring during the first half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Group E soccer match between the Netherlands and Portugal in Dunedin, New Zealand, Sunday, July 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

It had been a year to the day since the Netherlands and Portugal met at the European Championship’s group stage, and now they met on the world stage. This one would not be similar to their meeting at the Euros where the Netherlands won 3-2, but it was similar in that the difference in the game was one goal.

As the match began, it was clear that the Netherlands were going to be on the front foot. The Dutch had fallen to the USWNT in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final and wanted to prove that they could make a championship run yet again in 2023. They took the game to Portugal who were playing in their first ever World Cup match. It didn’t take too long for the sustained pressure from the Netherlands to pay off.

In the 13th minute, a corner was driven through the box towards the far post by Sherida Spitse, it found the head of Stefanie van der Gragt and went into the net. At first, the goal was going to be disallowed as it looked like a few Netherlands players were offside and interfering with Portugal’s goalkeeper’s view of the ball, but after a VAR review, it was deemed a good goal.

After scoring first the Netherlands kept the pressure on, and Portugal had few chances to attack themselves. The Portuguese only managed two shots one of them on target. They fell in their first-ever game at a World Cup, while the Netherlands got a needed three points. Up next for the Dutch is a rematch against the USWNT; the winner takes the top spot in Group E!

Group E Standings

  1. USA – 3 pts | + 3 GD
  2. Netherlands – 3 pts | + 1 GD
  3. Portugal – 0 pts | – 1 GD
  4. Vietnam – 0 pts | – 3 GD

Jamaica earns impressive point against Group F favorite France.

World Cup
Jamaica’s Khadija Shaw, right, battles for the ball with France’s Wendie Renard during the Women’s World Cup Group F soccer match between France and Jamaica at the Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, July 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

In one of the more interesting matchups, number five-ranked France took on number 43-ranked Jamaica. France was hoping to get off to a hot start at this Women’s World Cup, while Jamaica was ready to show that they belonged with them on the biggest stage! France opened the game by dominating the ball, while Jamaica was focused on being organized and looking for areas to hit on a counterattack.

France had 72% possession in this match but much of that possession was working the ball from wing to wing, hoping for an attacking player to make a cutting run that never came. France did create 14 shots in the game, but only five were on target, and none were chances that struck fear into the hearts of Jamaica. It truly was a great defensive performance from Jamaica, and they had the best attacking player on the day Khadija “Bunny” Shaw.

When Jamaica was able to break out of their defensive shape and attack, they looked for Shaw right away. She would receive the ball around half-field and go to work taking on multiple France defenders. Her movement was brilliant and it gave France headaches all game. Unfortunately for her and Jamaica, they couldn’t create too many dangerous attacks. Shaw was a little over eager trying to win the ball and spring a counterattack in the first half earning a yellow card, this would prove detrimental later as she kept her intensity up in the second half and got a second yellow in the second half stoppage time pushing for a chance at goal.

As France was now a Woman up for the remaining four minutes of second-half stoppage time, they their numbers forward. They frantically attacked Jamaica’s goal, but the Ragaee Girlz wouldn’t budge. The full-time whistle blew, and Jamaica earned a huge point against France. While Jamaica celebrated France’s frustration was evident to see, as they now have an uphill battle to claim Group F’s top spot.

Group F Standings

  1. France – 1 pt | 0 GD
  2. Jamaica – 1 pt | 0 GD
  3. Brazil – 0 pts | 0 GD
  4. Panama – 0 pts | 0 GD

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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Mark Baker, AP Photo/Martin Meissner, AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, & AP Photo/Rick Rycroft