The Round of 16 started with a bang, two incredible games of football and heartbreak for two sides.
GERMANY V NIGERIA
The knockout stages kicked off at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble with a clash between Germany and Nigeria.
Germany stormed through to the quarter-finals in emphatic style with a 3-0 win. The Germans headed into the match with a perfect defensive record, six goals scored and zero conceded in three games, and it certainly remained intact.
20 minutes in, Alexandra Popp opened the scoring with a powerful header on her 100th appearance for Germany, and after a VAR review, the Germans were 1-0 up.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 22, 2019
Immediately after the opener, Germany earned a penalty and Sara Däbritz made it 2-0 from the spot with ease, ironically following some chaotic circumstances and another VAR review.
Lea Schuller scored Germany’s third in spectacular fashion, with a stunning strike from the edge of the area. A solid defensive mindset and a winning mentality sums up Germany’s performance, but is the best yet to come for this side?
AUSTRALIA V NORWAY
The most intense match of the World Cup to date was full of VAR drama, emotion, intensity and physicality. Isabell Herlovsen drew first blood to put Norway up by one, but Australia’s Elise Kellond-Knight took the game to extra time with an equaliser. With no winner after the additional half hour of play, Norway advanced to the quarter-finals with a clinical 4-1 win on penalties.
It was a positive start for Australia as Sam Kerr had a chance to put her side up from kick-off, but the shot was sent wide. Another early Australian effort by Hayley Raso was saved after she played a neat one-two with Kerr.
In the 31st minute, Herlovsen fired home after a swift counter-attack. Just before the break, Australia received a decision for a handball in the penalty area, but it was overturned by VAR.
Kerr had the ball in the back of the net on 59 minutes, however it would be ruled out as the flag went up for offside.
Australian shot-stopper Lydia Williams had the match of her life and ultimately kept her side in the game, starting with a strong save to deny Caroline Graham Hansen.
Kellond-Knight then levelled the scoring with a stunning ball from a corner that evaded everyone and found the goal in the 83rd minute. Soon afterwards, there was uproar from Australian supporters as Tameka Yallop was chopped in the box, the referee waving play on.
In stoppage time, Australia took a ginormous breath as Hansen’s shot sprung off the post, drizzled along the line and remarkably stayed out, meaning the game went to extra time.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) June 22, 2019
Kerr had another big chance but couldn’t get enough power to sneak it past the goalkeeper, and Willams continued to make countless stops in heart-in-mouth moments. Controversially, Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy was given a straight red after she was ruled to have dragged down Lisa-Marie Utland, and this sparked divided opinion.
But the show must go on, and it did, as neither side could break the deadlock and were forced to penalties.
Hansen sent Williams the wrong way with Norway’s first clinical finish from the spot. Kerr also aimed to her right but instead put her penalty kick high and wide. Norway then made it 2-0 as Guro Reiten slotted the ball into the bottom right.
Emily Gielnik had her penalty saved, and Norway made it three from three in the calmest way possible, Maren Mjelde drilling the ball into the bottom corner. Despite a broken hand, Steph Catley nailed her penalty to make it 3-1. However, Ingrid Engen scored the fourth penalty for the Norwegians. That was enough for them to advance and for Australia to bow out of the World Cup with their “Never Say Die” attitude.
A full Beyond 90 match report is available.