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Where EAST meets the Northwest

The Asian Reporter, V29, #13 (July 1, 2019), page 7.

GOAL GRATITUDE. Thailandís Kanjana Sungngoen (#21, left) celebrates after scoring her sideís first goal during the Womenís World Cup Group F soccer match between Sweden and Thailand at Stade de Nice in Nice, France. "Everyone was very happy that we at least scored one," Kanjana said through a translator. "The whole team is very glad." (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Thailand scores first World Cup goal in loss to Sweden

By Rob Harris

The Associated Press

NICE, France ó A couple of seconds elapsed before a disbelieving Kanjana Sungngoen raised her arms in celebration.

It really happened.

Thailand had finally scored at the Womenís World Cup.

By the time Sungngoen found the net against Sweden in the first minute of stoppage time, Thailand was already trailing 0-4.

But simply scoring was a triumph after Thailandís humiliating 0-13 opening loss to the United States. Coaches embraced on the bench and Thai flags were raised in the stands on the French Riviera.

They were still beaming after the final whistle, even after Elin Rubensson scored with the final kick of the game from the penalty spot to seal a 5-1 victory for Sweden, which advanced to the Round of 16 with a game to spare.

"Everyone was very happy that we at least scored one," Kanjana said through a translator. "The whole team is very glad."

Even if it was only a consolation goal and the team remained at the bottom of Group F.

"It was a difficult goal and playing a great team like Sweden, it meant so much," Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian said through a translator. "It meant that all of our preparation paid off. We had a lot of chances today. This one goal made us laugh, made us smile, and makes us happy."

Even Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, through the disappointment of not keeping a clean sheet, could see what scoring meant to the Thais.

"We are all human," Lindahl said, "and having had that defeat they had against the U.S., and now scoring their goal, you can feel some empathy for them."

It helped that her teammates had already scored four times by the time Sungngoen got on the end of a high ball on the right flank and cut in before beating Lindahl at her near post.

The first of the five Swedish scorers netted in the sixth minute in Nice, with Linda Sembrant heading past Waraporn Boonsing.

The Thai goalkeeper did manage to palm away Anna Anvegardís shot in the 19th minute but she couldnít recover the ball to prevent Kosovare Asllani scoring. Boonsing couldnít stop the 41st-minute strike from Fridolina RolfŲ curling into the top corner.

Just like in the game against the United States, it was 0-3 at halftime. Unlike in Paris, Thailand didnít concede another four times in the opening 11 minutes of the second half.

In fact, it took Sweden until the 81st minute to find the net again through Lina Hurtigís header before being beaten by Thailand on the counterattack.

So when the final whistle blew, the Thai squad was able to bow to its fans. Some pride had been restored.

"Our defeat in the [U.S.] game was massive," Srathongvian said. "We were disappointed, but scoring one today we made some success. We still need to develop and we need to improve and make it better. We need to get as close to other super teams. We need to play better so we can enjoy it more."

* * *

From The Asian Reporter, V29, #13 (July 1, 2019), page 7.

DRAMATIC DEFEAT. Japanís Saki Kumagai kicks the ball away from Vivianne Miedema of the Netherlands during the Womenís World Cup Round of 16 soccer match at Roazhon Park in Rennes, France. The Netherlands defeated Japan, 2-1. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Japan out of Womenís World Cup after stoppage-time PK

By Rob Harris

The Associated Press

RENNES, France ó Tears were still flowing from Saki Kumagaiís eyes more than 30 minutes later.

With victorious Dutch rivals passing her on the way out of the stadium, Japanís captain seemed to find solace in speaking about the penalty long after it cost her team a place in the quarterfinals of the Womenís World Cup.

With the game entering the 90th minute locked at 1-1, Kumagaiís outstretched left arm blocked the shot Vivianne Miedema had aimed into the right side of the net.

"It hit my hand for sure," Kumagai said. "Itís difficult to accept, but itís also sad. I know that is football."

Referee Melissa Borjas pointed to the penalty spot and Lieke Martens netted her second goal of the game in the 90th minute to seal a 2-1 victory that sent the Netherlands into the quarterfinals for the first time.

"We have made history," Martens said. "Iím not usually taking the penalties but I felt really good this game. I asked Sherida Spitse if I could take it and she gave it directly to me and I felt quite relaxed about it."

It was journeyís end for Japan, which won the 2011 tournament and was the runner-up four years later.

The strength of the second-half display counted for nothing.

As befitting a meeting of the Asian and European champions, the game produced some of the slickest action of the World Cup. A backheel flick set up Martens to send the Dutch in front in the 17th minute and Yui Hasegawa equalized in the 43rd to complete a slick passing move.

But the post, crossbar, and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal thwarted Japanís pursuit of a winning goal.

"I think we lacked the clinical edge," Japan coach Asako Takakura said. "We have to accept the result, weíre defeated, weíre very disappointed and for all the players I feel very sorry for them and frustrated."

With the last Asian team eliminated, the Womenís World Cup had a record seven European teams in the quarterfinals.

Martens flicked in the opener after evading her marker to meet a corner and send the ball through the legs of Yuika Sugasawa into the net.

Sugasawa had a quick chance to tie, only to hit the post. But Japan did equalize by completing an intricate move.

Hina Sugita squared across the penalty area to Yuika Sugasawa, who passed back to Mana Iwabuchi on the edge of the penalty area. After holding off Jackie Groenen on the turn, Iwabuchi slipped the ball through to Hasegawa, who was free to delicately dink a shot over Van Veenendaal into the corner of the net.

It was some way to make the most of a first shot on target for a team that failed to score in two of its three group stage games.

Van Veenendaal came to the rescue of the Dutch in the second half by denying Emi Nakajima as Japan chased the winner.

"Japan is a world class team and you saw that today," Miedema said. "In the second half you can see they have loads of quality on the pitch."

* * *

From The Asian Reporter, V29, #13 (July 1, 2019), pages 7 & 9.

Australia eliminated in penalty-kick shootout

By Daniella Matar

The Associated Press

NICE, France ó Goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth proved to be a shootout hero once again as Norway beat Australia on penalties to advance to the quarterfinals of the Womenís World Cup.

Hjelmseth saved Emily Gielnikís kick and Ingrid Engen, who is playing in her first World Cup, hit the decisive penalty as Norway won the shootout 4-1 after the match finished in a 1-1 draw.

Australia captain Sam Kerr, who was frustrated by Norway most of the night despite several opportunities, fired her penalty shot high and wide.

"It was a great win," Hjelmseth said. "I was just focusing and picking a side when they put the ball down. I was just telling myself, ĎOK, I will go to the right,í and then I took a chance and it was good for us, it was the right side."

Hjelmseth saved two penalties in her last shootout ó the semifinal of the 2013 European Championship.

"That was a good one," she said. "I think when youíre a goalie you can only be a hero so itís just about picking a side and just finding the right timing to go so you donít get the VAR [Video Assistant Referee] stuff."

The shootout came after a game during which neither team had a clear advantage, though Norway succeeded in keeping Australiaís Kerr from being much of a factor. Kerr had a goal ruled out in the second half after offside was called. Australia also had two penalties denied on video review in normal time.

The game went to extra time after Australiaís Elise Kellond-Knight scored from a corner to make it a 1-1 game in the 83rd minute.

Forward Isabell Herlovsen put Norway up 1-0 with a goal in the 31st.

Australia had to play the final 16 minutes of extra time at a numerical disadvantage after defender Alanna Kennedy was sent off on a red card for hauling down Norway forward Lisa-Marie Utland. Norway peppered Australiaís goal but was repeatedly denied by goalkeeper Lydia Williams.

"It was tough," Kerr said. "A lot of the girls had already played a lot of minutes so we were already running on empty and then obviously Alanna getting sent off is not ideal but we stuck together. We were still confident and believing in each other but it just didnít come off tonight."

Kerr ended the tournament tied with American Alex Morgan for the most goals at five.

"Only big players can miss penalties, because small players donít take them," coach Ante Milicic said when asked what he told Kerr after the match.

Australia was thwarted in its attempt to reach the quarterfinals for a fourth straight time.

"This team had high expectations and goals coming into this tournament so to go out this way it was pretty rough and I havenít really wrapped my head around it I donít think," said defender Steph Catley, who had Australiaís only successful penalty kick during the shootout. "Doesnít really feel like weíre out if that makes sense. Itís devastating."

* * *

From The Asian Reporter, V29, #13 (July 1, 2019), page 9.

Italy beats China 2-0 in WWC Round of 16

By Joseph Wilson

The Associated Press

MONTPELLIER, France ó Italy made its case to be considered a contender in the Womenís World Cup (WWC) after a convincing 2-0 win over China. China had only allowed one goal in its three group stage games but the talented Italian attack broke down the vaunted defense.

Valentina Giacinti scored in the 15th minute. Aurora Galliís long strike put the result beyond doubt four minutes after halftime at the stiflingly hot Stade de la Mosson.

China coach Jia Xiuquan seemed to put his future in doubt after his team exited with just one goal scored in the tournament, saying "maybe it is time to take a break."

"I believe the World Cup is a big stage and it makes us realize our shortcomings," Jia said through a translator. "To improve Chinese football it requires generations. It canít only depend on myself."

Forward Giacinti was a force as she threatened on two occasions before she sparked the chance that ended in her goal.

After pressuring to win a ball near the touchline, she raced down the flank and found Barbara Bonansea, who waited to find left back Elisa Bartoli joining the move. Bartoliís shot was blocked by China goalkeeper Peng Shimeng but Giacinti pounced on the loose ball and drove it home.

China midfielder Wang Yan did manage to make goalkeeper Laura Giuliani palm her effort over the bar in the 28th minute.

But Peng then had to dive to parry a powerful strike from Valentina Bergamaschi as Italy looked close to a quick second goal against a China team that couldnít handle its press and its trio of attackers.

Once China settled down and eliminated sloppy passes, the action tilted momentarily to the other half. Forward Li Ying gave Bartoli fits with her dribbling and she made the Italian defenders work with her dangerous crosses.

Italy suffered a bigger blow when striker Cristiana Girelli had to walk off the field with an apparent leg injury in the 39th.

She was replaced by Galli, who surprised Peng with a right-footed strike that went skimming over the turf and beyond the goalkeeperís reach.

* * *

Womenís World Cup

France 2019

Knockout rounds:

Round of 16

June 22
Germany 3, Nigeria 0
Norway 1, Australia 1
(Norway win on PKs, 4-1)

June 23
England 3, Cameroon 0
France 2, Brazil 1
(France win after extra time)

June 24
Spain 1, USA 2
Sweden 1, Canada 0

June 25
Italy 2, China PR 0
Netherlands 2, Japan 1

June 27
Norway 0, England 3
June 28
France 1, USA 2
June 29
Italy 0, Netherlands 2
Germany 1, Sweden 2

July 2, noon
England vs. USA
July 3, noon
Netherlands vs. Sweden

Third place
July 6, 8:00am

July 7, 8:00am

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