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FIFA Women's WC: China, Spain through to last 16

June 18, 2019 09:03 IST

FIFA World Cup

IMAGE:  China's Haiyan Wu, Li Yang and team mates celebrate in front of their fans after the match. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

China and Spain played out a 0-0 draw in their final World Cup Group B match on Monday and the result was good enough for both teams to advance to the last 16 after Germany beat South Africa 4-0 in the other game in the section.

Germany progressed as group winners with a perfect record of three victories while Spain finished second on four points.

 

China also have four points but trail the Spaniards on goal difference, although they are assured of a last-16 spot as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Spain dominated the game with nine shots on target while China had none. But the European side were guilty of spurning their chances and not making the most of their possession.

"We knew a draw was a possibility, it would have been good to have scored but I think today the Chinese goalkeeper (Shimeng Peng) was very, very good," Spain coach Jorge Vilda told reporters.

China's defence stood firm, setting up in a 4-4-2 formation and trying to hit Spain on the counter-attack with Wang Shanshan and Wang Shuang leading the line.

China coach Jia Xiuquan replaced Wang Shanshan with Li Yang in the second half after she appeared to be struggling with an injury as Spain continued to waste chances.

Nahikari Garcia had a great opportunity to put the Spaniards ahead when she burst into the box but her effort went wide of the post, much to coach Jorge Vilda's frustration.

Progress to the next round was an emotional moment for Jia, who took charge of the women's team only last year.

"They have played really well," he said. "To build a strong team, it needs generations, it cannot just be done over one generation.

"Also we see the gap between us and the world class teams. It's very difficult, no matter who our opponents are. That's why I'm so touched by our players' efforts and by the spirit."

China keeper Peng, the player of the match, said she was also reduced to tears after keeping a clean sheet to help her side progress.

"I've never seen my coach crying before," the 21-year-old said. "The first time I saw him cry, I couldn't help but cry too. I felt so sad and touched. It has been a very tough year for our coach, he's worked so hard."

Spain will face either holders the United States or Sweden in the last 16 while China must wait to see who they will play.

France maintain perfect record with Renard's VAR penalty

FIFA World Cup

IMAGE: France's Wendie Renard scores their first goal from the penalty spot. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

Already-qualified hosts France preserved their perfect record to top Group A at the women's World Cup with a 1-0 win against 10-woman Nigeria thanks to Wendie Renard's 79th minute penalty awarded after a VAR review on Monday.

Renard's first attempt hit the outside of the post but the kick had to be retaken because Chiamaka Nnadozie had moved off her line -- a situation that also happened in France's previous game against Norway -- and the centre back coolly converted.

African champions Nigeria, who could still reach the last 16 as one of the best third-placed teams, finished with 10 players after Ngozi Ebere was dismissed for a second booking in the 75th for a foul on Kadidiatou Diani that led to the penalty.

France finished with nine points ahead of Norway with six and Nigeria on three while South Korea have none. France will face one of the best third-placed teams in Le Havre on Sunday.

Les Bleues were far from perfect as they lacked intensity, which could prove costly against better-ranked teams deeper into the tournament.

"It's hard to tell what we have to do better right now. We wanted to win our three group games and it's done even if it was difficult," said coach Corinne Diacre. "But that's how you build momentum."

With France having already booked a place in the last 16 before kick off, Diacre started Viviane Asseyi up front, with Eugenie Le Sommer starting on the bench.

France dominated possession in a packed Roazhon Park but were toothless up front, their best chance coming midway through the first half when Amandine Henry's volley shaved the post.

Nigeria were looking to hurt Les Bleues on the break but the central defence, marshalled by Renard, kept the Africans at bay.

The French were more aggressive after the restart but Gaetane Thiney missed a sitter on the hour just before Le Sommer came on for Valerie Gauvin.

Just like in the 2-1 win against Norway, France were awarded a penalty after a VAR review. Renard's first attempt hit the woodwork but she made no mistake after the referee ordered the kick to be retaken because the keeper had moved off her line.

It was France's eighth consecutive victory and their 17th in their last 18 outings.

Two penalties see lacklustre Norway seal last 16 spot

FIFA World Cup

IMAGE: Norway's Isabell Herlovsen scores their second goal from the penalty spot. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Norway booked a ticket to the last 16 at the women's World Cup after an uninspiring 2-1 victory against a battling South Korea side thanks to a penalty in each half from Caroline Graham Hansen and Isabell Herlovsen.

Norway, the 1995 champions, join hosts France in the knockout stage and will face either Italy, Brazil or Australia, while Korea go home without a point but with some pride restored after Yeo Minji scored late for an exciting finish.

The Norwegians finished second with six points behind hosts France, who have nine after beating Nigeria 1-0 to maintain a perfect record. The African champions can still qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.

Norway opened the scoring through a fourth minute penalty from Barcelona-bound Hansen after South Korean captain Cho Sohyun tugged defender Maria Thorisdottir’s shirt.

Korea reacted by getting their foot on the ball, dominating possession and creating a string of half chances with Chelsea playmaker Ji Soyun pulling the strings and Lee Geummin getting some freedom on the wing, but they lacked a finishing touch.

Sensing his team’s difficulties at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, Norway coach Martin Sjogren changed the system around at halftime, moving Hansen behind the forwards from the wing and it paid off immediately.

"Both halves started quite well, but the other side are very good at passing and I think that it was quite hard for the players," Sjogren said. "The Koreans played a really good match and were better than expected. We need to do better."

Hansen surged into the box in the 49th minute and was brought down, with Isabell Herlovsen converting from the spot.

Norway will have to sweat until Saturday's last 16 match in Nice after 24-year-old Hansen had to come off with an ankle injury from the challenge by Kang Chaerim but by then the Norwegians sensed they had done enough.

Karina Saevik should have made it 3-0 after 63 minutes but shot wide from a cut-back with the goal at her mercy.

With the game petering out, Lee Geummin produced a moment of magic in the 78th minute by backheeling a through ball to Yeo, who slid home to give the Koreans hope.

They almost snatched a draw with the same two players linking up again in extra time, but Yeo headed just wide.

Korea, who reached the last 16 in 2015, were soundly beaten 4-0 by France and 2-0 by Nigeria in their opening games.

"We gave all our energy to score and restore the pride of Korean football," South Korea coach Yoon Duk-yeo told reporters. "Even though we lost I believe our players did their best. As head coach I'd like to apologise that I didn't get the result we expected."

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