Women’s World Cup Roundup: Argentina and South Africa play to a thrilling 2-2 draw; England and China both get 1-0 wins on Day 9

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World Cup
Argentina’s Sophia Braun, right, celebrates with a teammate after scoring her team’s first goal during the Women’s World Cup Group G soccer match between Argentina and South Africa in Dunedin, New Zealand, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Cornaga)

The matches are coming fast and furiously in the Women’s World Cup. As the games continue to progress, the drama and the stakes continue to rise! On Day nine, this was evident as there was a monumental comeback and two games where the difference was decided early. Let’s look back on day nine of this World Cup!

World Cup
Argentina’s Sophia Braun, right, celebrates with a teammate after scoring her team’s first goal during the Women’s World Cup Group G soccer match between Argentina and South Africa in Dunedin, New Zealand, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Cornaga)

Women’s World Cup Roundup Day 9

Argentina come back from two goals down to salvage a point vs South Africa

World Cup
South Africa’s goalkeeper Kaylin Swart lands on Argentina’s Estefania Banini as she attempts to clear the ball during the Women’s World Cup Group G soccer match between Argentina and South Africa in Dunedin, New Zealand, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Cornaga)

Argentina and South Africa both entered their second match at this Women’s World Cup with zero points. both nations knew that a loss in this game would mean the end of their tournament-winning hopes and they would still have to play a third match. Argentina fell in their first match to Italy; a late goal doomed this spirited side in that one. South Africa took the lead against Sweden in their first game but conceded twice in the last 35 minutes of the game to give up all three points. Both issues that these nations faced in their first matches they faced in their second.

In a match that was quite literally lose-and-go-home, both teams eyed each other wearily to start the game. Argentina looked to hold the ball and find areas to exploit their opponent’s defense, while South Africa was content to stay organized and play direct when they won the ball. Because of these contrasting styles, the match would often have times of lull, and then frantic moments. South Africa played a ball in behind Argentina’s high-lined defense. Thembi Kgatlana rushed in on goal and squared the ball to a wide-open Linda Mothlhalo who put the ball into the open net. The play was flagged for offside, but VAR confirmed the run was onside and the goal stood!

South Africa took a 1-0 lead into halftime, and their game plan was executed yet again in the second half. A smartly timed pressing sequence made Argentina turn the ball over right near their box, Jermaine Seoposenwe dribbled to the byline and then found the run of Thembi Kgatlana who rifled the ball into the roof of the net, it was 2-0 South Africa and they looked to be on their way to three points; then Argentina’s possession was able to create dangerous attacks.

South Africa sat in after going up 2-0 and invited pressure. Argentina gave it to them as Florencia Bonsegundo dribbled into a packed South Africa box, the ball was half-cleared but fell to Sophie Braun who instinctively smashed the ball into the top corner of the net. It was 2-1 with 15 minutes left, and you could tell Argentina would get another chance to score. Argentina created that chance just four minutes after their first goal Yamila Rodriguez put in a perfect cross and Romina Nunez was able to flick the ball on with a header into the net.

It was 2-2 in a flash, and the match would end in a feverish back-and-forth pace that eventually led to a draw. South Africa will feel hard done for not seeing the game out, while Argentina will take this point as a sign that their style of play can work against teams that sit in at this World Cup.

Group G Standings

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

England gets second-straight 1-0 victory in win over Denmark

World Cup
England’s Lauren James, right, celebrates a first half goal with teammate England’s Ella Toone during the Women’s World Cup Group D soccer match between England and Denmark at Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney, Australia, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Sophie Ralph)

England opened their Women’s World Cup as one of the favorites to win the tournament, but their 1-0 win over Haiti didn’t inspire confidence; many thought that Haiti was the better team on the day. Denmark came into this tournament as a dark horse to make a knockout round run, they won their first match vs China thanks to a 90th-minute stunner. In game two, both nations knew a win would all but be enough to push them through tho the Rond of 16.

It didn’t take long for England to assert their dominance over Denmark. From the jump, England held the ball and had the momentum to score. In the sixth minute, they found the game’s only goal. England produced a long and methodical buildup into the attacking third, and Rachel Daly found Lauren James who took a touch forward towards Denmark’s box and hit a bullet into the top corner of the goal. England had the early lead and kept the pressure up the entire match.

Denmark had a very difficult time over the entire 90 minutes trying to possess the ball and create chances. Denmark only managed six shots, two of which were on target. Their two chances came at very different times. In the 24th minute as Rikke Madsen was in on goal but pulled her shot wide of the net. Late on, Amalie Vangsgaard found a header chance that she rattled off the post. England was lucky to not concede on either chance.

In the end, England took all three points, but aside from their goal, they did not create any big chances to add to their lead. Denmark will likely feel like they dropped two points with how they were able to create better chances, but now they will have to hope for a final-day win or draw and a China loss to advance to the knockout rounds of this World Cup!

Group D Standings

  1. England – 3 pts | +2 GD
  2. Denmark – 3 pts | 0 GD
  3. China – 0 pts | -1 GD
  4. Haiti – 0 pts | -1 GD

China scores early and stifles Haiti in a closely contested win

World Cup
China’s Wang Shuang, right, celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the Women’s World Cup Group D soccer match between China and Haiti in Adelaide, Australia, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/James Elsby)

China fell in their first match thanks to a last-minute winner vs Denmark. Haiti was the better team against England but fell 1-0. Both of these nations had less-than-ideal starts to their World Cups in terms of points dropped, but they also played very well in their first games. This second match would be turned on its head late in the first half.

As the game began it was clear that China was in control of this game, and that Haiti would look to counterattack when they could win the ball. In the 29th minute, one such Haiti counter was building up. China’s Rui Zhang came sliding in to stop the play and came through Sherly Jeudy at first the referee gave a yellow card, but after a VAR review, it was determined to be a red card offense. China would be down a player for 70 minutes, but Haiti could not capitalize.

Haiti did not change its game plan after going a player up. This allowed China to still dictate the play. This would pay off in the 72nd minute as China was awarded a penalty. At first, it looked like they were offside in their build-up that lead to a foul in the box, but VAR correctly awarded the penalty to China. Shuang Wang stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way. 10-player China took the lead with 18 minutes to go.

After the goal, Haiti pushed for the equalizer. It looked like they would get the chance to do just that through a penalty that was awarded in the 90+2 minute, however after another lengthy VAR review, the foul was overturned. Haiti was up a player for 70 minutes and managed to only get one shot on target, because of this, they now need a win on their final group stage match at this World Cup and also need help in the form of a China loss.

China’s resolve to get all three points being down a player for as long as they were is remarkable. If they can be this organized against England, they may just do enough to make it to the knockout rounds of this Women’s World Cup!

Group D Standings

  1. England – 3 pts | +2 GD
  2. Denmark – 3 pts | 0 GD
  3. China – 0 pts | -1 GD
  4. Haiti – 0 pts | -1 GD

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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Cornaga, AP Photo/Sophie Ralph, & AP Photo/James Elsby