VANCOUVER: Holders Japan and Olympic champions USA both kept their title challenges on track as they advanced to the last-16 at the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday as group leaders.
The USA, beaten in the 2011 final by Japan, eliminated Nigeria 1-0 in front of their passionate fans in Vancouver’s BC Stadium to lead Group D, after the Japanese had earlier beaten Ecuador 1-0 to top Group C.
Surprise African newcomers Cameroon are the only side from the continent left as they beat Switzerland 2-1 to advance second in Group C as Australia finished second in Group D after holding Sweden 1-1 in Edmonton.
“I think the crowd was amazing and that had a big part in our game tonight,” said USA coach Jill Ellis of the capacity crowd of nearly 53,000.
“I’m pleased with how we played and pleased to be moving out of a tough, tough group,” she added of a Group D dubbed the ‘Group of Death’.
Captain Abby Wambach scored her 183rd international just before half time, off a Megan Rapinoe corner to set the side on their way to the win.
The 35-year-old now has 14 World Cup goals, just one shy of Brazil star Marta’s record 15, achieved earlier in the tournament.
Nigeria, meanwhile, are eliminated with just one point.
As first in Group D, the USA next meet one of the four best third-placed finishers from another group in Edmonton next Monday.
A draw was good enough to see Australia through for their third consecutive tournament, and they next play Brazil in Moncton on Sunday.
Japan top Group C with nine points, with Cameroon on six. Switzerland have three points with Ecuador on the way home with none.
Coach Norio Sasaki’s side will also next face one of the four third-place finishers to advance in Vancouver next Tuesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2015.
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