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Elite duo shine, Euro contenders joust
Club football took a back seat over the past week as a host of high profile international teams claimed the spotlight. On centre stage was a classic billing between heavyweights Germany and USA with the world’s top two ranked nations unable to be separated in yet another high-quality encounter. England and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosts Canada continued an ever-growing rivalry, while numerous UEFA Women’s EURO contenders honed their form ahead of July’s continental showdown. FIFA.com takes a look at all the major action.
Big guns fire
Just weeks since USA defeated Germany 2-0 in the Algarve Cup final, the same pair met again, but this time sharing a thrilling 3-3 draw on the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. Soccer Federation. Goals from superstar trio Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan set the Olympic champions on their way, before the home side roused the Offenbach crowd with two late strikes from Celia Okoyino da Mbabi and substitute Anja Mittag to earn a share of the spoils. USA rounded out their mini-tour of Europe with a comfortable 3-1 win over Netherlands in The Hague on Tuesday, prior to heading home for this weekend’s much-anticipated opening to the new National Women’s Soccer League.
Canada build for 2015
Canada endured mixed fortunes on their two-match visit to Europe, and injury-time goals proved the difference on both occasions. Kaylyn Kyle's late strike saw the FIFA Women’s World Cup hosts snag a 1-1 draw against France as the pair reprised their London 2012 bronze-medal match. Les Bleues speedster Elodie Thomis put her side in front on the stroke of half-time, but Kyle’s late intervention ensured France racked up a remarkable seventh consecutive draw.
Canada coach John Herdman then took the North Americans to his native England where this time they fell victim to a sharp Ellen White header two minutes past the allotted 90. The late winner added to what was a memorable afternoon for England stalwart Rachel Yankey who equalled Peter Shilton's England appearance record of 125 caps. Herdman, meanwhile, says he is taking the opportunity to experiment ahead of Canada 2015. "We are still trying some new things, so it may take us awhile to gel, but we are lucky because we have 2-3 years before we play in that FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada," he said. "It is nice to be able to test a few things at this stage."
Sweden 2013 looms
UEFA Women’s EURO hosts Sweden continued their fine form since FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year Pia Sundhage took the reins with a hard-working 2-0 win over Iceland. However, it took a second-half double from Lotta Schelin - the second of which was scored in injury time - to quell the Icelandic resilience. Schelin’s first goal was her 50th in the Blagult jersey. Switzerland, who failed to qualify for Sweden 2013, brought a sudden halt to Norway’s recent good form as Even Pellerud’s side were defeated 3-1 in Nyon on the back of Ana Crnogorcevic’s double.
Denmark started their weekend with a home defeat as Marlous Pieete grabbed a late winner for the Netherlands in Silkeborg. However, things improved for the Danes on Monday with a stunning 5-1 victory over Russia. After a scoreless first half, Denmark’s Pernille Harder proved to be the goalscoring heroine with a hat-trick as Russia conceded five goals for the second time this year, having done likewise against Finland in February.
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
12. December 98
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day