With so much still to play for and the complexion of the final table and placement matches continuously changing throughout the course of the day, all twelve teams were out for glory.
Keen to put two loses behind them, Portugal took to the pitch with more vigour and composure than many might have expected against group favourites, Canada. Not looking like a team who shopped six last time out, the tournament hosts found their defensive resilience and did well to keep Canada quiet throughout and ensured that they finished the group stages with at least a point. Despite their frustrations against Portugal, the stalemate was enough for the Canucks who progress to the grand final on Wednesday when they’ll vie to retain their title.
Whilst Canada and Portugal were deadlocked it was quite a different story in the other match of the group and Denmark cruised past Russia. A first-half penalty to the Danes saw Pernille Harder put the red and whites on top but a lack of taking their chances saw them pegged back in first-half stoppage time by a fine strike from Margarita Chernomyrdina. After the break the Danes made their dominance count, once more putting six past their opposition at this year’s tournament, Harder’s hat-trick added to by Nicoline Sørensen as well as Sarah Hansen who grabbed herself a seven-minute brace.
In Group B, 23-year-old Kumi Yokoyama was once again on target for Japan as they bested a Norway side having a torrid time in Portugal. Yokoyama’s second-half brace more than enough to seal the tie and put Japan in a great spot to finish fifth, whilst Norway will have to do their utmost not to finish the tournament dead last.
Although their results haven’t shown it so much this month, Iceland’s strong defensive work has been vital to the team in the Algarve, and after one loss and one draw, Freyr Alexandersson’s side finally manged to keep a clean-sheet. A canny feat against a Spain team that have been in their element in Portugal, the scoreless draw preventing La Roja from a home-run of wins but the imperious Spaniards will go head-to-head with Canada in the grand final.
Despite dominating proceedings, Australia found themselves a goal down in the first-half after a strike from China’s Wang Shanshan had the Matildas slipping down the rankings. Refusing to relent, Oz finally restored parity just after the hour when Emily Gielnik volleyed home at the near post – Gielnik now one of three players tied for the golden boot, with three goals apiece. Australia’s perseverance paid off and the visitors grabbed a winner five minutes from time from the most unlikely of sources when 16 year-old defender, Ellie Carpenter nodded her header past Zhao Lina at a corner.
In their twentieth meeting neither Sweden nor the Netherlands could find their best and with the match swinging from Blågult’s favour in the first-half to the Oranje’s in the second it was Holland who were picking up steam as the game progressed. Half chances came and went for both but the finishing was as stilted as the creativity however, ten minutes from time Mandy van den Berg gave Holland the edge with her perfectly struck penalty. The win a fair reflection of the tie and the day that started for Sweden with a chance to make the grand final ended with a spot contesting seventh as the Netherlands will do battle Japan for fifth.
Gold/silver: Spain vs Canada
Bronze/fourth: Australia vs Denmark
Fifth/sixth: Japan vs Netherlands
Seventh/eighth: Sweden vs Russia
Ninth/tenth: Iceland vs China
Eleventh/twelfth: Norway vs Portugal
All times and venues tba, matches will all take place on Wednesday 8 March.