SYDNEY (Agencies): Colombia scored a 97th-minute winner to stun Germany 2-1 on a night of Women’s World Cup drama Sunday which also saw Norway and Switzerland into the last 16 but co-hosts New Zealand dumped out in tears.
Germany smashed Morocco 6-0 in their opener to underline why they were among the pre-tournament favourites, along with Spain and England, to snatch away the United States’ crown.
But they came crashing back down to earth at the hands of a Colombia side inspired by 18-year-old Linda Caicedo and roared on by the majority of a rowdy 40,000 crowd in Sydney. The Real Madrid attacker scored one of the best goals of the tournament so far, darting past two Germany defenders before curling the ball into the top corner to open the scoring.
Germany thought they had salvaged a point in the 89th minute when skipper Alexandra Popp defied the whistles to score from the penalty spot. But with a pulsating game that deep into stoppage time appeared destined for a draw, Manuela Vanegas popped up to head home from close range and put Colombia on the verge of the last 16.
“Germany is a world power, that’s a reality, but Colombia has been making great strides and today Colombia is a world power,” said the defender Vanegas. “I dreamed of scoring a goal in a World Cup, I knew it was going to come and I decided to do it for today’s game.”
Going into the last round of group matches, Colombia are top of Group H on six points, Germany and Morocco have three and South Korea have zero.
Germany’s fate is still in their own hands when they face the Koreans next, with Colombia against Morocco.
Morocco won a Women’s World Cup match for the first time after Ibtissam Jraidi struck early to give them a 1-0 victory over South Korea.
In the match, Moroccan defender Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a hijab at the Women’s World Cup.
- Norway through, New Zealand out –
Norway and Switzerland both emerged out of an excruciatingly tight Group A. Former champions Norway thrashed the Philippines 6-0 in Auckland to squeeze into the last 16 on goal difference from New Zealand.
A full house in Dunedin saw the co-hosts held 0-0 by a stubborn Switzerland as the Football Ferns bowed out of their home tournament in tears.
The 1995 champions Norway needed a win and they did it in style against World Cup debutants the Philippines, who themselves were still in with a chance of reaching the knockouts. Sophie Roman Haug scored a hat-trick as the Philippines’ fairytale journey came to a shuddering halt. With Norway well ahead, New Zealand now needed to beat Switzerland.
The hosts had the better of the first half with a string of chances, the pick of which saw forward Jacqui Hand rattle the post on 24 minutes. As Norway chalked up the goals in Auckland, the New Zealanders upped the intensity, knowing only a win would be good enough to advance.
But the goal they so desperately needed never came. “There are a lot of tears out there, but they should be so proud to finish on four points,” captain Ali Riley said.
- Australia wait on Kerr –
On Monday, Australia will hope to avoid the same fate as their co-hosts.
The Matildas must beat Olympic champions Canada to guarantee a place in the last 16 but are still sweating on their skipper and talismanic striker Sam Kerr. She has declared herself available after a calf injury but it remains to be seen how much of a part she plays.
“Everyone involved in sport knows that with calf injuries it’s one thing that you’re available, but there’s also risk when you come back from a muscle injury,” said Australia’s coach Tony Gustavsson. Also in Group B, surprise-package Nigeria need just to avoid defeat against already-eliminated Ireland to progress.
Former champions Japan and title contenders Spain meet to decide who tops Group C with both already into the last 16.