The first full day of Women’s World Cup action brought plenty of fireworks, some controversy, and great goals as well Group A and B begin to take shape. Here’s a recap of the action on the day as three European sides emerged victorious over Asian and African opponents in France.
Germany 1-0 China
China put up a fight, but wastefulness in the final third was their undoing as 19-year-old Giulia Gwinn scored a 66th minute winner to see Germany secure all three points. Germany struggled to put shots on target, ripping off 18 shots and only able to put five on target, but defensively they remained strong. China was plucky, but they failed to finish off opportunities, only able to put four shots together throughout the match.
Gwinn arrived at the key moment for Germany, delivering a scorching strike to win the match and becoming the first German teenager in 20 years to score a Women’s World Cup goal.
China had opportunities, the best of which came just before halftime when Yang Li struck the post before Germany goalkeeper Almuth Schult arrived to snuff out any danger. The loss is a disappointment for China who may have felt they were up to the task, but the performance is still positive overall headed into games against Spain and South Africa where they will feel confident after challenging Germany closely. Germany is unbeaten in 13 matches, the longest current streak of any Women’s World Cup participant.
Spain 3-1 South Africa
Spain looked shaky in the first half seeing South Africa go in front 25 minutes in via Thembi Kgatlana, but the European side was the recipient of a pair of controversial VAR decisions to propel them in front after halftime. The first came with 20 minutes to go as a Spain cross caught Janine Van Wyk in the arm as she turned away, with a penalty given after a VAR check. Jennifer Hermoso dispatched the spot-kick to draw the two sides level.
The second and far more controversial decision happened with just seven minutes remaining as a VAR check determined that Nothando Vilakazi followed through a clear dangerously, slamming her spikes into the groin of Lucia Garcia. That resulted in both a penalty and a sending-off, and Hermoso was there again to deposit the chance for her second of the day and a Spain lead.
With Spain in front and South Africa down a player, Garcia scored a third and put the game away, sneaking behind the defense and latching onto a long-ball to give Spain a 3-1 lead.
Norway 3-0 Nigeria
For at least one match, Norway didn’t miss Ada Hegerberg as an end-to-end saw the European side clinical with goals from Guro Reiten and Lisa-Marie Utland before halftime, with an own-goal from Osinachi Ohale capping off the wild first 45 minutes. Both sides had big chances, but Norway was the one to capitalize as Nigeria couldn’t find a way through, with Norwegian defender Maren Mjelde on hand to snuff out a big early Nigerian chance on the break and the back line again holding firm just before the break in a wild scrum.
There was a lengthy delay soon after the start of the second half as Nigerian defender Faith Ikidi was stretchered off after a collision with her goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi. Nigeria settled in a bit through the second half but failed to find a breakthrough and Norway cruised to victory.