Thursday 17 November 2016, 12:17

Germany fire as USA, Korea Republic bounce back

THE DAY REPLAYED –None of the teams in Groups C and D booked a quarter-final berth in their second round of matches at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016. Nevertheless, the knockout stages are now within reach for several sides, while others will be relying on other results in the final round of games if they are to continue their run in the competition.

In Group C USA recorded their first win of the tournament. Although they comfortably beat New Zealand to soar to the top of the group, they remain within striking distance of their rivals. France and Ghana battled it out in a dramatic encounter in which both teams embarked on a turbulent rollercoaster of emotions.

Meanwhile in Group D, Germany reinforced their status as favourites with a clear victory over Mexico. The defending champions now have one foot in the last eight after winning both of their opening games. In the day’s other match, Korea Republic comprehensively defeated Venezuela to secure their first points of the tournament despite making a shaky start.

Results Group C France 2-2 Ghana New Zealand 1-3 USA

Group D Germany 3-0 Mexico Korea Republic 3-0 Venezuela

Goal of the day Having gone into the tournament with a lot expected of her, USA captain Mallory Pugh justified her billing with a moment of magic against New Zealand. After winning the ball on the left wing, the fleet-footed forward danced past two opposition players, cut inside and curled an unstoppable shot past Kiwi goalkeeper Nadia Olla to hand the Stars and Stripes a 2-0 lead.

Memorable moments Chavas to the rescue: The quarter-finals seemed a distant prospect for favourites France in the 82nd minute of their match against Ghana when the African side – already leading 2-1 – were awarded a penalty. With a third goal likely to put a Ghanaian victory beyond doubt, Mylene Chavas saved Samira Abdul-Rahman’s spot-kick to keep her team’s hopes of avoiding defeat alive.

The Oracle of Delphine: Emboldened by Chavas’s save, the French scored an equaliser in stoppage time to ensure their fate in Group C remains in their hands. The celebrated goalscorer was substitute Clara Mateo, of all people, who coolly headed Delphine Cascarino’s cross home against Ghana after missing a golden opportunity in the opener against USA. Her provider, meanwhile, demonstrated not only impressive on-pitch awareness but also a flair for clairvoyance. “Delphine encouraged me after the first match and told me that I’d score in the next one,” Mateo revealed in an interview with after the final whistle.

The happiest of birthdays: For Lee Sohee it was a birthday that she will not forget in a hurry. On the day she turned 19, the South Korean midfielder was introduced as a substitute in the 56th minute with the deadlock yet to be broken. Just over half an hour later she had two reasons to celebrate as her team delivered the best present of all – a resounding win.

The stat 10 –Only ten of the 54 penalties taken in the history of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup have not been converted. Together with France custodian Chavas, Korea Republic’s Kim Minjung contributed to this tally in the latest round of games by saving Mariana Speckmaier’s penalty with the scores at 0-0 to set her team on the path to victory.

The words "A match lasts for 90 minutes. We were tactically well organised, played to our strengths and exploited their weaknesses. Although we had the chance to make it 3-1, that kind of thing can happen at this level when players perhaps don’t quite have the mental strength yet. We’re confident that we’ll reach the next round nonetheless. We don’t want to go back to Ghana until 4 December." Mas-Ud Dramani, Ghana coach

Next matchday Sunday 20 November Group A Brazil-Sweden, 19.00 (PNG Football Stadium) Korea DPR-Papua New Guinea, 19.00 (National Football Stadium)

Group B Nigeria-Spain, 16.00 (PNG Football Stadium) Canada-Japan, 16.00 (National Football Stadium)

(All times local)