A pair of penalty kicks was enough for holders USA to progress past a spirited Spanish side in the day's opening round of 16 game at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™. Megan Rapinoe's expertly-taken penalty double sandwiched a brilliant Jennifer Hermoso effort. The three-time champions head through to face hosts France in a gargantuan quarter-final in Paris on Friday.
In the day's later game, a spot kick was also a major talking point but - in this case - it was one that failed to reach the back of the net. Sweden's Hedvig Lindahl made an outstanding save to deny Janine Beckie from the spot and secure her side's passage to the quarter-finals courtesy of Stina Blackstenius's clinical second-half goal. The Blagult will face Germany in Rennes on Saturday.
Elisa Revuelta (ESP)
Spain are out of the competition, but against the USA they proved that they are ready to compete against the best teams in the world. They knew they needed a perfect match to have a chance and they nearly did just that. They matched the physical strength of the USA and were aggressive when attacking and defending. They improved their accuracy in front of goal. They stuck together and managed to make the holders' lives complicated. The USA only scored from the penalty spot and Spain never gave up, pushing for an equaliser until the final whistle. They made history in their second Women's World Cup, and after what they showed today, there's no doubt the best is still to come, and that will be sooner rather than later.
Erin Fish (USA)
Spain proved to be the toughest test yet for the USA. Both physically and mentally the team had to remain focused and play their game even when Spain tried to get them to do exactly the opposite. A gritty and tough battle from the European team gave the US two goals that were both results of penalties. Despite the heat, Ellis didn’t make a sub until the 85th minute, showing just how physically fit this team is.
Alexandra Jonson (SWE)
It was all about the second half for the Swedes in Paris. The quick thinking from Kosovare Asllani and the goal from Stina Blackstenius changed the tone of the match. After that, we saw a more confident, creative and attacking Sweden. That newfound swagger could have all been for nothing after Canada got a penalty. However, veteran Hedvig Lindahl showed just why she is considered one of the best goalkeepers in Swedish football history by making a brilliant save when it mattered the most. That was a huge confidence boost for the Swedes as they head into the quarter-finals.
Mona Yeganegi (CAN)
The Canadians came to Paris to win and they played that way. Sadly, they were eliminated by Sweden in a hard-fought game. Though the first half began strongly for Canada, Sweden regained control and created real threats to the Canadian goal. Sweden followed the same strategy in the second half, allowing the game to settle before slowly increasing pressure on the Canadian side, using their strength to create more frequent and better chances than the Canucks. With a swift counter-attack, the Swedes jumped at the chance to score from a turnover in possession. With a strong desire for a win, Canada’s line-up was visibly shaken, losing possession more than they’d wish, particular after a missed penalty. Nevertheless, Canadian fans, and the team themselves, should be proud of their tenacity and hard work at France 2019, exiting playing the beautiful game, beautifully.