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Women’s World Cup 2023 moments

by tbhdesk

The Women’s World Cup ends on Sunday when England play Spain in the final in Sydney, bringing the curtain down on a memorable month in Australia and New Zealand.

AFP Sport looks at five of the best moments from the tournament:

New Zealand win at last

The tournament started like a dream for New Zealand as they beat former champions Norway 1-0 in the opening game of the competition in Auckland.

Hannah Wilkinson scored the only goal for the Football Ferns as they claimed their first World Cup victory ever, having failed to win any of their preceding 15 matches.

Some of the players were in tears of joy afterwards.

The game was watched by a crowd of 42,137 at Eden Park, then a record attendance for any football match in the country, men’s or women’s.

New Zealand could not build on that as they lost to the Philippines and drew with Switzerland, leading to elimination in the group stage.

Colombia stun Germany in 97th minute

Germany thrashed Morocco 6-0 in their opening match and as one of the title favourites were expected to make similarly light work of Colombia. They were in for a real shock.

The teenage Real Madrid attacker Linda Caicedo gave the 25th-ranked Colombians a surprise lead when she beat two players with a body swerve and then bent the ball into the top corner.

It would remain one of the best goals of the tournament.

Germany thought they had saved their blushes with an 89th-minute penalty through skipper Alexandra Popp.

But deep into injury time at the end of the game, in the 97th minute, Germany conceded a corner and from the resulting set-piece Manuela Vanegas popped up unmarked to head home.

Cue delirium from the majority of the 40,000 crowd and the shock result went a large way towards propelling Colombia into the last 16 — and helped ensure an early exit for Germany.

Mourning Kgatlana South Africa’s saviour

South Africa had never won a World Cup game before and needed to beat a more fancied Italy to reach the last 16 for the first time in their history.

They were two minutes into injury time at the end of a see-sawing game when skipper Thembi Kgatlana received the ball in a tight space on the edge of the six-yard box and side-footed first time into the net.

All of the South Africa substitutes piled in to celebrate the goal, which took them farther than they had ever been before at the competition.

Afterwards, Kgatlana revealed that three members of her family had died ahead of the World Cup and she had nearly not made the tournament at all.

Rapinoe and USA crash out early

The United States came to the World Cup as favourites to win an unprecedented third World Cup in a row.

But it soon became apparent that Vlatko Andonovski’s side were not the fearsome proposition of years past as they stumbled out of their group after grimly holding on for a draw with debutants Portugal.

They upped their game against Sweden in the last 16 but could not find the goal their dominance deserved. And so they went to penalties, and Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith and Kelley O’Hara all failed from the spot.

A shoot-out for the ages was decided when Lina Hurtig’s penalty was parried by US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher but the ball crossed the line by the most slender of margins.

It was the Americans’ earliest exit ever from the World Cup and meant Rapinoe’s last World Cup ended in agony.

Penalty drama sees Australia through

The drama of Sweden’s shoot-out win over the USA was arguably topped when Australia sealed a place in the semi-finals for the first time by beating France 7-6 on penalties.

The game ended goalless after 120 minutes before the longest penalty shoot-out in Women’s World Cup history saw both teams take 10 kicks.

Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold missed a chance to win the shoot-out when her kick hit the post, but then saved twice from Kenza Dali — a former club teammate at West Ham United — after the VAR spotted she had both feet off her line the first time.

Both teams then failed to score their next penalty, allowing Cortnee Vine to win it for the Matildas, sparking wild celebrations.

Source: Dhaka Tribune.

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