2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup - Day Two review: Less goals, more entertainment

2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup - Day Two review: Less goals, more entertainment

The tournament is heating up as Group C and D proved to be tougher tests than the opening games.

Katie Mishner

Group C and D did not follow suit from the goal-filled games seen in the opening day of the U-20 Women's World Cup.

In fact, it was the complete opposite. Only seven goals were put to bed in four games as the tournament unveiled two very well matched groups. 

Group C - France 0-0 USA

Two teams tipped for the title took to pitch in what was to be an incredibly close game. France edged the USA when it boils down to statistics, but the resilience of both teams left the game goalless.

From being the youngest player in the 2014 U-20 WWC, Mallory Pugh captained the side in her opening game with Rio 2016 under her belt. The experience shone through as she looked a natural leader on the pitch. 

Pugh's early chance was one of the Stars and Stripes best. Ashley Sanchez, who has just returned from her own captain duties in the U-17 WWC, captalised on an error from Hawa Cissoko. After engaging her pace to get into a threatening position Sanchez crossed the ball for her captain but it went bundling a little too far and keeper Mylene Chavas was able to collect, sending Pugh flying.

When the US captain did hit it on target following a superb solo run, it was directly to the hands of Chavas. That was the United States' only shot on target and almost the last attempt on goal in the first half.

The French dominance came to life in the second half as they upped their possession to heights of 60%. The chances kept coming as a result. Maelle Garbino made a swift turn on the inside of the box allowing her to have a shot on goal but for the safe hands of Casey Murphy, it was no problem.

Delphine Cascarino outclassed her opposition with a nimble and clever run. She stopped on the line, well inside the box, able to turn and deliver to Clara Mateo who thought she had lost her marker. However, when the French number 10 made her strike, Maddie Elliston was there for the US to block the ball - saving her team because that certainly would have been a goal.

Ghana 0-1 New Zealand

The tables were turned in a game that Ghana had the most opportunities to go ahead in, from a late goal by New Zealand. The theme of a close game was continued following France and USA's stalemate as for most of the game, the scoreline remained empty. However, Leon Birnie's clever substitution means that the Kiwis take their place at the top of the table.

Initially it was New Zealand that got the game started with two chances that took them close to taking the lead. Ghana's response was not to sit back however, they sprung into action making threatening moves down the wings, into the middle but it yielded no dividends. Jane Ayieyam missed a sitter during the first half of the game as she belted a volley over the cross bar.

It was not just a case of misplaced shots as keeper Nadia Olla made many crucial saves that kept her team in it until the end. She displayed her courage when she leapt out to take control of a deflected shot, a tricky feat but the shot stopper managed it with great composure.

As the second half went underway, Ghana looked ready for the challenge and as if they would be the ones taking the three points home as they had shot after shot, alas they were held by a rigid NZ backline.

Jasmine Pereira picked the momentum back up for New Zealand against a tide of Ghana attacks as her curling effort just swerved around the bar. This was exactly the lift that her team needed and with one minute to go Tayla Christensen, who was substituted in the 71st minute, broke free past the pacey defence, walked around keeper Victoria Ageyi and slotted home the winner. Delight in the technical area broke out as the coaching staff, substitutes and players on the field knew what this meant.

New Zealand lead Group C.

Group D - Germany 3-1 Venezuela

There was a stark contrast in experience when it came to Germany and Venezuela. Germany are the current holders of the U-20 WWC while Venezuela make their debut. The Vinotinto were able to comeback from a one goal deficit, but when the Germans amped up the pressure they could do nothing but concede.

Inside the first two minutes Madeline Gier showed Venezuela what her team were all about, charging away from defenders to meet Saskia Matheis' composed pass off the line. Gier struck the ball with ease, hitting well away from the reach of Franyely Rodriguez.

Although it looked like the game would be a repeat from yesterday's many hammerings, Venzuela cleverly pulled one back 24 minutes later. Garbriela Garcia set up Marian Speckmaier with a long distance pace which looped over Pia-Sophie Wolter, leaving her to watch Speckmaier's clinical finish from the floor.

It looked as though the game would go into the second half as a draw until Gier demonstrated her class once again to earn her second goal of the game. The forward collected Anna Gerhardt's cross at the other side of the goal mouth, calmly rocketing the ball up into the roof of the net. After the break, the play resumed in much the same way with Germany dominating the flow of the game. 

The dominance shortly paid off as Lea Schueller picked up the third as she neatly controlled an attacking, hollywood pass launched from Germany's own third. Once she had brought the ball down to her level, she shrugged off the Venezuelan defenders and made her move from outside. The ball bounced past keeper Rodriguez and gave the former Champions a two goal cushion.

Schueller later went off with a nasty knee injury which, for Germany losing their number nine could be a big blow but Maren Meinert's side definitely has depth in quality.

Mexico 2-0 Korea Republic

Korea Republic had little to offer in a game that was heavily controlled by Mexico, only managing three attempts in comparison to their oppositions 20. The Mexicans now walk away joint top of the table, rivalled by 2014 winners Germany.

There was only two key chances in the first half, both in favour of Mexico. Kiana Palacios made a quick run down the wing from where she was able to make a cross to Maria Sanchez who then handed the goal scoring opportunity to Belen Cruz with an accidental dummy. The ball looked goal bound as Cruz hit it but bold goalkeeping from Minjuk Kim flicked the ball onto the cross bar and out of danger.

Sanchez went close again with a sterling freekick but she swung it a little too far as it scuffed the wrong side of the net. That was all for the first half but the second half would prove to be very successful for the Mexican side.

It did not take long for a high pressing game to pay off as Mexico went one up in the 56th minute. Sanchez was able to place herself in the box through a quick run and used her sheer strength to get the better of Yoon Sunyoung. The only thing she did not do is find the back of the net but luckily Jacqueline Crowther was there to walk it in, unmarked.

With only one minute left to go, it looked like Mexico would have to settle for second place with a narrow 1-0 scoreline. However, Kiana Palacios was there to save the day. The striker was outnumbered as the box was lined with seven Korea Republic player, but that did not faze her. She weaved her way in and out of the players until she was in a comfortable position, she then released the ball - goalkeeper Kim was left on her back and unable to even get a foot to it.

The performance of the Mexico team bodes well for the future of the tournament, and the result even better considering the side failed to leave the group stage back in 2014.