Women’s World Cup Roundup: Italy Brazil, and Germany take care of Business on Day 5.

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Women’s World Cup
Germany players celebrate after Germany’s Alexandra Popp, 4th right, scored the opening goal during the Women’s World Cup Group H soccer match between Germany and Morocco in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, July 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

We’re through day 5 at this Women’s World Cup and every team has played its open match in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and now we’ve finally got an idea of how the landscape of each group could play out over the final two games for each time.  The final day of opening fixtures featured 3 of FIFA’s top 20 ranked teams in #16 Italy, #8 Brazil, and #2 Germany, coming in as favorites over their opponents.

World Cup
Germany players celebrate after Germany’s Alexandra Popp, 4th right, scored the opening goal during the Women’s World Cup Group H soccer match between Germany and Morocco in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, July 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Women’s World Cup Roundup Day 5

Italy and Argentina duke it out in a close one-goal game

World Cup
Argentina’s Romina Nunez, left, and Italy’s Lisa Boattin vie for the ball during the Women’s World Cup Group G soccer match between Italy and Argentina at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Monday, July 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Italy and Argentina from Group G kicked things off on Day 5.  Italy came into this match as one of the favorites to advance through the group, and knew getting all 3 points against Argentina in their opening match would be a big piece to achieving that.  And on the other side of things, Argentina knew their best hope in advancing through the group was to steal any points they could from Italy in the open game, beat South Africa, and hope their goal differential sees them through over Italy.  So yeah, Argentina probably would have been OK with a draw here.  And they held on for dear life. 

From the get-go, it was almost entirely Italy on the ball, in possession, and in the threatening positions.  In the 18th minute, Italy thought they had an early break-through when Arianna Caruso cut into the penalty area from the keeper’s right side and let off a right-footed shot that found the far lower corner of the net, but Caruso was called off-side in the buildup.  In the 42nd minute alarm bells for Argentina rang once again, when Valentina Giacinti received a through-ball behind the defense, and slotted away the opener with her right foot, only for the goal to be waived off for off-sides once again. 

Argentina survived another scare and got to the halftime break still at a 0-0 draw, exactly where they wanted to be.  

Early in the second half, Argentina created an opportunity of their own from a free-kick in the 49th minute.  A ball from Eliana Stabile was sent into the 6-yard box right on top of Italy’s keeper, Francesca Durante, who needed to deal with the cross confidently in order to cut out the chaos in the box leading to a goal against the run of play.  Durante swatted and got a hand to the ball but not good enough to clear it of danger, but the mess was cleaned up by a pair of Italian defenders. 

Argentina created another half chance in the 65th minute with another dangerous cross into the box, but this time Durante punched the ball away cleanly with both fists.  And in the 73rd minute, the Italian’s net was left open by another poor clearance attempt by Durante, but the ball ran out of play before Argentina’s Laroquette could find the ball and put it home. 

While Argentina wasn’t really creating any super dangerous opportunities, neither was Italy, aside from a free-kick chance that just rose over the bar earlier in the second half.  And the further the game went on at 0-0, the more content Argentina was with the result. 

In the 87th minute, a soaring cross from the right foot of Lisa Boattin found the head of Cristiana Girelli, who directed the ball into the back of the net to give Italy the breakthrough with her 4th career World Cup goal, and Italy a 1-0 win in their opening match of the tournament. 

Group G Standings

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

Germany score six against newcomers Morocco

World Cup
Germany’s Alexandra Popp takes a shot during the Women’s World Cup Group H soccer match between Germany and Morocco in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, July 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Victoria Adkins)

Germany came into The World Cup as heavy favorite, and honestly, there isn’t much else to say about the matchup between these two.  Germany absolutely dominated Morocco, and did so from the start.  Germany found the breakthrough early on in the 11th minute of play when a cross from the keeper’s left by Kathrin-Julia Hendrich found the towering head of Alexandra Popp, who smashed the header home into an open net. 

Morocco did pretty well to hang on for the remainder of the half, and almost equalized in the 24th minute when Ghizlane Chebbak ripped a shot from about 40 yards out that was heading for the back of the net, but Germany’s Merle Frohms was able to catch the attempt cleanly.  Germany thought they added their second goal in the 33rd minute but were correctly called offside.  The prospect of keeping the game at 1-0 going into halftime probably felt like a win for Morocco, but in the 39th minute, Alexandra Popp headed home her second goal of the night, this time assisted by Klara Buhl. 

The second goal really took a lot of steam out of Morocco, and if they had any hope left going into the final 45 minutes, it was put to bed pretty quickly with Klara Buhl knocking home a goal of her own, just a minute into the start of the second half to make it 3-0 Germany.  Morocco thought they pulled one back in the 53rd minute when Anissa Lahmari hit the back of the net, but it was called back for offside.  From there, it was all downhill for Morocco, unfortunately. 

In the 54th minute, Germany made it 4-0 from an Own Goal by Hanane Ait El Haj, 5-0 from another own goal by Zineb Redouani in the 79th minute, and 6-0 on a goal from Lea Schuller in the 90th minute.  Germany took this one pretty easily, as almost everyone expected.  

Group H Standings

1. Germany – 3 pts | + 6 GD
2. Colombia – 3 pts | + 2 GD
3. South Korea – 0 pts | -2 GD
4. Morocco – 0 pts | – 6 GD

Brazil blasts four past Panama

World Cup
FILE – Brazil forward Marta (10) controls the ball during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women’s soccer match against Japan, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. The United States will be playing for an unprecedented three-peat at the Women’s World Cup this summer. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

This was another one dominated by the favorite coming into this game.  Brazil just looked like they were playing on another level against Panama.  After a flurry of chances early on, it only took 19 minutes for Brazil to find their first goal of the tournament, when Debinha sent a beautiful cross in from the keeper’s right side, which was headed home by Ary Borges to make it 1-0. 

20 minutes later, Ary Borges made it a brace for herself, cleaning up a shot that was left on the doorstep with the net wide open to make it 2-0 for Brazil heading into the half. It really was all Brazil in this one, especially in the first half, with Brazil keeping 75% of possession and outshooting Panama by a total of 16-0. 

In the second half, it was more of the same for Brazil, with Ary Borges affecting the game once again.  This time she received the ball in the box, and back-heeled a pass to Beatriz, who slammed it home to make it 3-0 Brazil in the 48th minute.  And in the 70th minute, It’s Ary Borges who completes her hat trick, by heading home her third goal of the night off a cross from Geyse.  That makes it 4-0 Brazil, and that would all but do it for this one to wrap up the final match of the first round of games.  

Group F Standings

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

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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Hamish Blair, AP Photo/Abbie Parr, AP Photo/Victoria Adkins, & AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack.