THE DAY REPLAYED – It seemed at times that the eyes of the entire world were on Canada on Sunday. While the Formula One cars roared around the track at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, the European teams taking to the stage at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Ottawa got their campaigns off to an equally thrilling start, racing into unassailable leads early on.
The opening matches of Group B in the Canadian capital demonstrated that experience is crucial at major tournaments. Former champions Norway and Germany made light work of newcomers Thailand and Côte d’Ivoire, who won friends despite losing all three points.
Norway 4-0 Thailand
Germany 10-0 Côte d’Ivoire
Goal of the day
Norway 1-0 Thailand, Trine Ronning (15)
Having dominated the first 15 minutes of the match with nothing tangible to show for their efforts, the Norwegians turned to their captain, Trine Ronning, who stepped forward after the referee had awarded her team a free-kick outside the box. The versatile midfielder proceeded to curl a precise and wonderfully executed long-range shot up over the wall and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. Cue Norway’s trademark celebration routine, where the scorer runs to the bench and is lifted up high by her team-mates.
Despite the one-sided events on the pitch, the Lansdowne Stadium crowd showed its support for the underdogs on Sunday, with the biggest cheer reserved for the Thailand goalkeeper’s penalty save rather than the 14 goals scored in the arena throughout the day. Thailand’s players won over the hearts of the fans with their self-restrained behaviour and friendly gestures, as well as their routine at substitutions, where they made their way towards the stands and clasped their hands in an act of reverence instead of sitting down on the bench. This was greatly appreciated by the public, as was the players’ lap around the stadium after their defeat, during which they waved and thanked the fans for their support.
On the same day that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg used German machinery to impress at the Canadian Grand Prix, Celia Sasic and Anja Mittag demonstrated what essential components they are in Silvia Neid’s well-oiled football machine. The prolific pair spearheaded Germany’s attack to great effect, each bagging a hat-trick, the first time that two players have achieved such a feat in the same match since Sandra Smisek and Birgit Prinz scored six against Argentina at China 2007, when the Germans triumphed 11-0 on their way to capturing the trophy. While that remains their largest victory at the Women’s World Cup, Sunday’s win is now the second largest.
With the influence of social networks now seemingly all-encompassing, it was no surprise to see Norway’s Isabell Herlovsen celebrate her second goal – and her team’s third – by pretending to take a selfie with a mobile phone. Although there was no device in her hand, her team-mates posed and smiled while real cameras around the stadium recorded the moment for posterity.
23 – The number of penalties that have been stopped by goalkeepers at the Women’s World Cup to date, out of a total of 89. Thai custodian Waraporn Boonsing joined that elite list by diving low to parry Maren Mjelde’s spot kick, boosting the percentage of saves to 25.80 in the process.
“We had plenty of opportunities, and then I think we just took the wind out of their sails. Simply put, they lost their energy and we just kept going, and that was good,” Silvia Neid, Germany Coach.
Monday 8 June (all times local)
Cameroon-Ecuador (BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, 16.00)
Japan-Switzerland (BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, 19.00)
Sweden-Nigeria (Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg, 15.00)
USA-Australia (Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg, 18.30)