FIFAWWC – France 2019

#FIFAWWC Match 52
USA 2 vs Netherlands 0
So it’s the last match, the final…I’ve watched match after match in the build up to this point and guess what? I missed most of it!!!!
I’ve been out all day refereeing at the AFC Littlehampton Ladies & Vets tournament. For those of you that know me there’s only one thing I like more than watching football it’s playing/refereeing. I’ve had an excellent day out and will be back again next year.
Anyway, back to the Final. USA won, obviously. Netherlands were no walkover and their GK had a fabulous match but the result was never really in doubt.
USA have been the best team all tournament. We need to take a long hard look at them and aspire to play at that level.

#FIFAWWC Match 51
Sweden 2 vs England 1
It’s that horrible 3/4 place play-off match. Both teams will be playing to win but do you use it to give match time to those squad players that haven’t had many minutes so far? Do you play the youngsters? Or the older ones for whom this may well be their last World Cup. Who’d be a manager?!
It’s Karen Carney’s last match – those of us who have followed women’s football for years will have watched her grow up. She has been a credit to women’s football. I hope she stays in the game – coach, manager, tv pundit, ambassador? All that experience mustn’t be lost.
Houghton is temporarily off the pitch with an injury, Sweden attack, we make a mistake at the back and Sweden punish us. 1-0 Sweden on 10 minutes.
Oh dear, it’s 2-0 on 21’ when the Swedish player is allowed to run into our penalty area with the ball and shoots past Telford. No-one closed her down….
We have our first shot one minute later…
We have a brilliant chance a few minutes later but it’s one pass too many and Mead is caught offside. Our passes from midfield to strikers are too slow and we’re offside by the time they are made..pass it early!
Yesssss – Fran Kirby scores a brilliant individual goal on 30’. Honestly I’ve been willing her to score all tournament as she’s my favourite player (hence the no. 10 on my Lionesses shirt).
Yesss – White scores 2 minutes later. That’s better! Oh for crying out loud (not quite my actual words) it’s a VAR check. Noooo, it’s ruled as handball. No way. When we scrutinize everything in such fine detail football is going to lose its excitement and appeal.
Another good chance for White just before half time but it’s a good save from Lindahl.
We start the second half brightly. Taylor comes on early for Mead. We’re playing well this half but just no really good chances. Virtually all the possession this half is with England. Carney is coming on for Parris. Fifteen minutes left, let’s hope it’s a fairytale end for her.
Daly on McManus off. It’s a midfielder for a defender. Last throw of the dice with 10 minutes left.
Sweden head the ball off their own goal line in the last minute of normal time. Aaaagh. Four minutes for England to get an equalizer. Carney has a shot, easy save for the GK. Sweden counterattack, saved by Telford.
England throw everything forward but sadly it’s not enough. I’m disappointed but immensely proud. My Player of the Match – Fran Kirby, superb today.
Honestly, when I look at where women’s football is now compared to when I was a girl the progress is staggering. I was only able to play ‘street football ‘ with my brother, his mates and the neighbourhood boys. There were no girls teams, no girls football at school, no opportunities in football for girls. To actually be watching a women’s World Cup on BBC1 featuring an England women’s team……if only I were 30 years younger!

#FIFAWWC Match 50
Sweden 0 vs Netherlands 1
So, just because England are out and I’m thoroughly dejected doesn’t mean I’m not going to see this World Cup right through to the end. I am committed, or is it I should be committed….?!
It’s an even first half, nothing much to report. Neither team sends too many players forwards just in case they get caught on the counterattack.
Tom & I have both noticed that in most matches someone goes down injured on the 30’ mark – it’s almost as if it’s an unofficial drinks break tactic?
Let’s hope for a more exciting second half.
Sweden hit the post after 10 minutes, it’s warming up slowly. NL hit the crossbar 10 minutes later. Both GKs got fingertips to them so they’ll go down as great saves.
SvdS is coming on, let’s hope she injects some pace & excitement to the match. She’s not been great these past few matches (not since she got rid of the leopard hair, are the two related?). No, she doesn’t.
It gets slightly exciting for the last 10 minutes but there are no goals. Sadly we’re into extra time. In the final USA are going to make mincemeat out of whichever team wins this semifinal.
Extra time starts and Tom & I debate the benefits of ‘golden goal’ – it could stop this torture….
Finally there’s a goal. Good move from NL and a shot right into the bottom corner. Twenty minutes of extra time left….Sweden throw everything into the last 10 minutes but still can’t create any decent chances. SvdS has a fabulous opportunity to score for NL but it goes 2 yards wide – sums up her tournament really. It ends…. nothing like yesterday’s semi final, but well done NL.

#FIFAWWC Match 49

England 1 vs USA 2

Omg we’re in the semifinals. This should be a cracking match. I am beyond excited…..

USA settle quicker than us and bag a goal at 9 minutes. Aaagh.

England equalise when White scores from a fabulous cross from Mead. Yaaaasss! We’re settling.

We almost get a second from an own goal by a USA defender but it’s agonizingly wide.

It’s a second to USA when Morgan gets between two of our defenders and heads it home. Mark those runners….don’t let them get between you.

Walsh hits a long shot that brings a fantastic save from the USA GK.

It’s a cracking match.

We’re giving them too much space…Half time and we’re 2-1 down but we’re still in this match.

I’ve never seen us play so many long balls. We’ve stopped all the short pass & move stuff and are lumping the ball forward. Mead is off and Kirby on. Let’s get this ball fizzing around?

Just as we’re getting miserable here in the Dare house it’s a simple ball from Scott to White and she scores. We scream, VAR rules it out. It’s half a toenail offside. Come on England, we can do this.

We have moments when we’re passing well but then we give it away.

We have a penalty shout with 10 minutes to go but it’s not given. Why don’t we get any luck? Hang on, it’s gone to VAR…….it’s a penalty. Euphoria. It’s missed…. not euphoria…

It’s a studs up tackle from Bright that earns her a second yellow and she’s off. It’s not going to be our day.

We try. We try really hard, but it’s not our day. USA were better on the night. I’m miserable but we’ll always love #Lionesses, it’s more than just one match & one tournament , #Lionesses for life!

#FIFAWWC Match 48
Germany 1 vs Sweden 2
This should be a good game. Sweden really arrived at the tournament last round (they’d been pretty poor in the group stages) and Germany have not been great but have won every match so far. I’ve got a G&T so that’ll mellow my thoughts.
Germany take the lead on 15’ with a great through-ball into the path of the runner from midfield, she flicks it up and volleys home.
Sweden equalise with a ‘route 1’ ball out from their defence, straight over everyone and into the path of their striker. That’s the first goal Germany have conceded all tournament. Game on!
Half time it’s 1-1 but I think Sweden are just edging it.
Sweden score straight after half time but VAR is having a look as there was potentially a foul way back in the move….no, play restarts so the goal stands. What are these teams drinking at half time to make them play so well after the break? England need some of it…
It’s a bit flat for a bit and Sweden seem to be in control but this is Germany and you know that all they need is a sniff on goal.
We’ve got the first VAR check of all of the quarter finals. Fortunately the German was offside before the Swedish GK thumped her (while trying to punch the ball away) so it’s not a penalty because offside came first.
It’s a nervy last 20 minutes for Sweden and they are riding their luck but then counterattack and almost score.
Six minutes of additional time…..
Germany almost score.
OMG Germany are OUT!!!

No matches until Tuesday now so I can catch up on Killing Eve and The Handmaids Tale plus reconnect with family members!

#FIFAWWC Match 47
Italy 0 vs Netherlands 2
It’s a boiling hot day in Valenciennes and the poor referee is wearing black. Cooling breaks are scheduled for 30 & 75 minutes and the players are tipping water over their heads. They need those fine mist showers that you get at long distance running races!
The football is ok, not many chances either end. I get frustrated with England giving the ball away but other teams are worse…
It takes 40 minutes for the match to start to get interesting. The insides of my eyelids were looking more appealing than the match at one point.
NL start the second half well, creating several good chances. That’s better. NL have a great shot that hits the crossbar. I’m glad it missed as it could’ve rivaled Lucy Bronze’s goal for best of the tournament had it gone in! A NL free kick skims the post. It’s livened up and so have I. The match is heating up and I don’t mean the air temperature, it’s getting a bit niggly and the Referee has to intervene in a confrontation.
NL finally get a goal – headed into the net from a cross. They’ve had all the play so far this half. Italy are getting annoyed and the foul count goes up. The second cooling break can’t come soon enough for Italy – let’s hope they can re-group, compose themselves and come out fighting (not literally). No, a pull on the shirt gives NL a free kick and they score another headed goal. Italy’s ill discipline is their undoing. It’s 83’ before Italy have a decent chance, too little too late.
It’s a comfortable win for NL, all these players now need to go and lie down in a darkened room (like me).

#FIFAWWC Match 46
France 1 vs USA 2
It’s a hosts vs holders match.
Its an early goal for USA – a low Rapinoe free kick goes straight through all the bodies in the penalty area and into the goal.
Then we completely lose BBC1 signal so we miss a few minutes but Tom finds the match on iPlayer – thank goodness for teenagers….
In the first 15 minutes we’ve had two ‘dives’ in the penalty area, one from each team. Stop it, this is women’s football. If we want to watch that kind of play there’s plenty of men’s games on tv.
It’s pleasing to see that it’s not just England that go through spells of giving the ball away. Both these teams are doing it.
It’s an even half, just not very exciting in terms of goal scoring opportunities.
I don’t know what USA ate/drank at half time but they are buzzing at the start of the second half. England should get some of it …
France dominate for a good spell and Le Sommer has a chance but fluffs it. She’s not been very good all tournament. USA are pinned back and defending frantically.
But USA score with a quick counterattack! France had to attack but got caught on the break. France continue to attack but there are times when they can’t even do the basics. They are 2-0 down and take off a striker, why?
With 10 minutes left the giraffe gets a headed goal for France (Renard is sooooo tall!) Game on!
France are pushing for an equaliser and the game has finally come to life. There a handball appeal, an appeal for a push, is it too late for France? Yes…
Not a great performance from USA but they weathered the French storm. The hosts are out and England play USA in the semifinals.

#FIFAWWC Match 45
England 3 vs Norway 0
Here we go – quarter finals.This is going to be a tough one for England because Norway have been good but then so have we…..
Gooooal, 2minutes, couldn’t ask for a better start.
Great run from Bronze, good chance for Parris but then another spell of giving the ball away by England. Stop giving the ball away….
England are starting to control the match, very calm & patient in the build-up. Another great attack and White’s shot hits the post. Aaaagh…
Norway attack, Stokes blocks the shot and there’s a big appeal for handball from Norway. Thankfully nothing given. Ball deflected off her own body onto her arm so it’s not handball.
It’s a heavy touch from Bardsley’s foot and Norway nearly sneak in. My poor heart….
Another great attack from England and a Parris header is saved by the GK.
It’s a break down the right, a cross from Parris and a tap-in for White. Yaaaay!!!
It’s almost a third goal just before half time but even Jill Scott’s legs aren’t quite long enough to get it in.
It’s impossible to relax when it means so much…
We need to keep this up, concentrate and not give the ball away….if Norway get a goal we could start to panic and make mistakes.
We start awfully in the second half….get your heads out of the dressing room and into the game..
Mead is on for Duggan – fresh legs on the left.
We are letting them attack us. Bronze does well to get a us free kick and it relieves the pressure.
3-0 England – it’s a screamer from Bronze. We’d tried it a few times already yet Norway weren’t alert to it.. Honestly the scream volume is set at very high in the house!
A short backpass from Bright leaves Bardsley stranded but Houghton clears the shot off the line. Another attack from Norway because we are making mistakes. Bardsley makes two big saves. We are trying to give them a goal. Game management….stop giving the ball away.
Stanway on Kirby off. Well done Fran Kirby, great game! I’ve noticed that when Jill Scott is busy then England play well, when she’s quiet we come under pressure.
Penalty to England – for a shove in the back of Houghton. Parris takes it, great save and she had a foot on the line.
There are chances both ends, Bardsley makes some important saves.
Parris off and Daly on.
We’re still trying to attack, not sitting back at all. Stanway has a great chance but the shot swerves wide. A chance for Mead results in a corner. We see Carol, Sandra, Pauline, Georgia & Jade on TV dancing & clapping. What a fabulous match to be at.
3-0 England, can you believe it? Brilliant! Semifinals here we come…

#FIFAWWC Match 44
Netherlands 2 vs Japan 1
NL score first with a set-piece corner. They’ve had some good chances early in the first half and look dangerous in attack but Japan are slowly working their way into the match. It’s a fabulous ‘give and go’ passing move from Japan and they hit the post..shame. More of that please. They must have heard me because there’s another of those moves and they equalise just before half time.
Second half is utterly absorbing. It’s like a game of cat & mouse. Another one of those lovely moves from Japan brings a fantastic save from the NL GK. Japan are not strong nor particularly fast but they do play such lovely pass & move football.
Another lovely move, involving a back heel to a teammate and the shot from Japan just skims past the post. Another move and they hit the crossbar. Another one and it’s a great save from NL GK. Both Tom & I are screaming for Japan. They shoot, it’s just over the bar. It’s all Japan…
Nooooooo, it’s a penalty to NL because their only shot of the second half hits a Japanese arm in the penalty area. It’s scored. Football can be a cruel game.
I’m speechless, Japan were brilliant, NL weren’t but they won.

#FIFAWWC Match 43
Italy 2 vs China 0
Before the start I’d have put money on an Italy win and they do take the lead early on but China settle and start getting their act together. They get a lot of possession and some good chances and it’s Italy that are restricted to an occasional counter-attack. It’s China that end the half in the ascendancy but 1-0 down.
Italy score another at the start of the second half, somewhat against the run of play, with a long shot into the bottom left corner of the goal beyond the reach of the China GK.
China’s passing & movement is excellent but they have no real ‘final ball’. Shots are soft, final passes are to the wrong place or person. It’s all very well being able to keep possession and pass the ball around but at some point you have to score goals…It’s frustrating to watch.
Not a great performance from Italy but it’s a straightforward win.

#FIFAWWC Match 42
Sweden 1 vs Canada 0
The match is on but I’m not really watching. It’s quite an even affair but just not very exciting. The crowd starts with Mexican waves and we all know that means they are bored. There’s only 1 minute of additional time at the end of the first half which means there hasn’t been any incidents worthy of VAR checks! The poor commentator is having to dig deep to find something to talk about at half time.
Sweden score 10 minutes after the restart. Thank goodness, now Canada will have to attack and it could get more interesting.
And it does…it’s a VAR penalty to Canada because the Swedish defender’s arm was out to the side when it was hit by the ball. Brilliant save by the GK but they’re checking VAR…’s a goal, the GK stayed on or level with the goal line. We’re all getting the hang of this now.
The match doesn’t develop the way you’d expect because it’s Sweden who are attacking most, even though they’re winning. This is the first time in the tournament so far that they’ve got out of first gear and it’s good to watch. They have a penalty shout but it’s ruled out as their player was offside before her teammate was chopped down in the penalty area.
There’s 7 minutes of additional time – such a contrast from the first half. Canada definitely forgot to pack their shooting boots for the trip as several attempts end up in row Z…it’s frantic right up to the whistle but Canada just can’t score.
Sweden have arrived at the tournament at last.

#FIFAWWC Match 41
USA 2 vs Spain 1
This could well be USA’s first real test of the tournament.
Spain have a really good chance within the first minute. Let’s hope it continues like this. Nope, USA are awarded a penalty on 5 minutes and it is scored by Rapinoe. Spain equalise 4 minutes later after a mistake in defence from USA. We’ve only been going 10 minutes!
USA are trying to ‘play out from the back’ but the Spaniards press them fast and USA don’t look comfortable. The Spaniards are not allowing the USA players any time to dwell on the ball, not giving them any respect and it seems to be irritating the USA players. Good tactics.
Spain lose key player Losada after 30 minutes – she was kneed in the face early on and we’ve watched her eye blacken, swell and close through the course of the half.
Rapinoe gets the first caution of the match for a hand in the face of her opponent as she ran past. I’m not impressed with Rapinoe in this tournament – big reputation but delivered little (so far).
There are good chances both ends of the pitch this half, it’s a cracking game.
It’s physical from Spain in the second half and USA still don’t like it. It’s not nasty physical, just strong. Every few minutes there’s a USA body on the pitch.
Oh good grief, it’s another penalty to USA for a stray Spanish leg. Rapinoe scores it again.
Spain are chasing the game in the last 10 minutes and are getting a bit scrappy. There’s 7 minutes of additional time, VAR must be a headache for broadcasters.
It’s a win for USA but they were made to work really hard for it.

#FIFAWWC Match 40
France 2 vs Brazil 1
It’s an incident packed first half. There’s some crunching tackles, some yellow cards, a disallowed goal for France and some goal scoring opportunities but it ends 0-0. Not the best football we’ve seen in the competition but neither team wants to lose concentration or drop the pace.
France score the first goal early in the second half. It’s from a strong run down the right, a cross, a striker steaming into the goal area to get a foot on the end if it. Good goal. Brazil almost equalise immediately from a header but it hits the bar. Game on…
Brazil get their equaliser not long after, once again it’s an Assistant’s flag after a goal is scored, a VAR check and the goal awarded. These ‘late’ flags can be annoying but they are stopping good goals from being ruled out.
More chances for both teams but no goals so we’re into extra time.
There’s an amazing bit of defending in extra time from Mbock of France to stop a certain Brazilian goal.
It’s an excellent goal from French captain Henry right at the start of the second half. Brazil will have to go all out attack now. Sadly they seem to have run out of energy & ideas and France see the game out for a victory.
It’s a win for France but Brazil made them work hard for it.

#FIFAWWC Match 39
England 3 vs Cameroon 0
England score early on from an indirect free kick on the edge of the goal area (Cameroon GK picked up a back pass). There are some dirty challenges and behaviours from Cameroon (elbow in a Parris face, spit at Duggan, attempted trip of Scott as she ran past). Referee needs to keep an eye on this….
It’s a frustrating half as we are the architects of our own problems because we go through another spell of just giving the ball away needlessly.
White scores deep into injury time in the first half. The assistant’s flag was raised after the goal (for offside) so VAR checked it and ruled it a goal. Aren’t VAR and delayed Assistant flags fantastic?! 2-0 at half time.
The Cameroon players aren’t happy with the referee, she needs to get a grip on this match otherwise it’ll get out of control. Just as I’m writing this Alex Scott says exactly the same thing on BBC1….!
Cameroon score within minutes of the restart because we gave the ball away needlessly. When are we going to stop doing this? It is ruled out by VAR and Cameroon are incensed. Five minutes pass before the match restarts…
Cameroon have another excellent chance after an England mistake but Bardsley saves it. England are in complete disarray….the match finally gets going again and settles down.
It’s a great low corner from Duggan and Greenwood made the run short and scores. Can we please manage the game now?
It’s all very stop-start second half. We have some chances, there are many fouls on us but the referee doesn’t seem to give the free kicks, not even a penalty for a late challenge on Kirby. There’s a terrible challenge on Houghton right near the end. Honestly, we’re lucky to finish without any serious injuries…
It’s sad that the match will be remembered for all the negatives.
However, we’re in the quarter finals against a very good Norway….eek.

#FIFAWWC Match 38
Norway 1 vs Australia 1 (4-1 on penalties)
This is an excellent match with both teams attacking at every opportunity. The build up play is sharp & snappy from both teams. Norway take the lead at 30 minutes when the right midfielder plays a ball through to the striker who slots it past the GK.
The referee awards a penalty to Australia near the end of the first half for a handball but she goes to VAR and spends a good amount of time re-watching the incident before deciding it wasn’t. It looked like the ball hit the shoulder/chest area. Fine margins …and a brave call from the referee to change her decision.
Australia get an equalizer in the 82’ when the ball bypasses every player and goes straight into the goal from a corner kick.
It’s a very exciting match for the neutral. I’m on the edge of my seat for the last few minutes as a shot from Norway is heading into the right corner of the goal but hits the post and rolls right along the goal line and out.
It’s extra time…good, it’s a great match.
Extra time is end to end with penalty appeals, good attacks, near misses. Australia have a defender sent off in the first half of extra time for pulling the Norwegian striker back when she was through on goal (straight red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity).
Aussie GK makes great saves, Norway hit the crossbar. Norway attack constantly and the Aussie GK plays a blinder. Australia counterattack and the Norwegian GK saves.
It’s penalties…..Norway win….
Best match of the tournament so far….

#FIFAWWC Match 37
Germany 3 vs Nigeria 0
We’re into knockout matches now…
Nigeria start & finish the first half with some really good play but they concede 2 goals in between. The first is a simple header home from a corner (although a German player was offside in front of the GK?) and the second is one of those ‘defender kicks the ball but the follow-through is high’ VAR awarded penalty. At least the officials are being consistent and awarding penalties for all of these follow-throughs.
The second half isn’t hugely interesting. Nigeria have a great chance early on that could, if scored, have put pressure on Germany but they miss….a mistake at the back for Nigeria and the German striker shoots and scores for 3-0.
It’s another win for Germany, no spectacular football or goals, just solid performances.

#FIFAWWC Matches 33, 34, 35 & 36
Thailand 0 vs Chile 2
USA 2 vs Sweden 0
Cameroon 2 vs New Zealand 1
Netherlands 2 vs Canada 1
Ok, I have a confession – I missed all these matches. I have a good excuse because I was in France for the inaugural #OGWC19, that’s the Old Girls World Cup 2019. Twenty teams of older women (age 30+) playing a recreational tournament in the middle of the day – I played in this. Then I refereed a mini 11 a side knockout tournament in the evening culminating in a proper World Cup Final. I have actually refereed a World Cup Final!!! Anyway, back to the ‘other’ World Cup….
It’s a somewhat surprising win for Cameroon and it means that they knock out NZ and progress to the next round to play England. Both Netherlands & Canada also qualify from the group.
USA make it 3 wins out of 3 and qualify top of the group. Sweden also qualify and Chile & Thailand are going home.

#FIFAWWC Matches 31 & 32
England 2 vs Japan 0
Scotland 3 vs Argentina 3
Obviously we’re watching England. The first half whizzes by which means that the football has been good. Japan gave us some minor scares in the first few minutes but England settled and started to control the match. Some great shots were matched by equally great saves by the Japanese GK but finally, a great through ball from Stanway to Ellen White sees a dink past the GK and into the goal. Walsh played another of those brilliant long balls and White’s shot brought another save from the GK. 1-0 half time. England have a lot of a sloppy spell in the second half, needlessly giving the ball away at times. Concentrate, manage the game… but we’re getting caught in possession at times, seems like we’re not checking our shoulders or getting that ‘man on’ shout. Japan are dominating the play for much of the second half and look like the only team that might score this half until we get hold of the ball and Carney plays a well weighted pass to White who shoots first time and scores, ha ha ha, how did that happen?! Two seconds of possession and we score….
It ends 2-0 to England but it was a nervy second half and Japan should have scored.
Poor Scotland 3-0 up with 20 minutes left and conceded 3 goals. Heartbreaking.

#FIFAWWC Matches 29 & 30
Italy 0 vs Brazil 1
Jamaica 1 vs Australia 3
Both Brazil & Australia have 3 points so they really needed wins in order to try and secure second & best third place and automatic qualification. Australia stand the better chance of a win, Brazil will have to play really well to beat Italy so that’s the match I’m watching.
It’s an exciting match with good chances for each team. Brazil are awarded the softest of penalties. Surprisingly, VAR was not involved at all in the decision. Looked like just a good shoulder to shoulder challenge to me but the Brazilian took a tumble and the penalty was given . Marta scores it, obviously…Italy are the better team in my mind. They’ve played some great football in the past 3 matches and I think they’ll do well in the knockout rounds.
Since both Australia & Brazil get the wins they’re both through to the next round alongside Italy. Jamaica are going home.

#FIFAWWC Matches 27 & 28
Nigeria 0 vs France 1
Norway 2 vs South Korea 1
Tom & I think the Nigeria vs France match will be better so we watch it.
It’s not a hugely exciting match and Nigeria are doing a really good job of frustrating France but there’s yet another VAR awarded penalty to France. To be fair it’s definitely a penalty and it’s a second yellow card to the Nigerian culprit so she’s off. Renard puts the penalty wide but because the GK moved an inch forward from her goal line the penalty is retaken and Renard scores. Pity.
It’s a third win for France but it’s not convincing (again).
France & Norway are through to the next round. South Korea are out and it’s possible that Nigeria are also going home (depends on results in other groups).

#FIFAWWC Matches 25 & 26
South Africa 0 vs Germany 4
China 0 vs Spain 0
It’s the third and final group matches in Group B and they’re both on at the same time (to stop any fixing/collusion etc) so I can’t watch them both. Plus I didn’t realize they were on at 5pm today!
It’s an easy win for Germany, that’s 3 wins out of 3 matches, they are through to the next round, always a worry…
Spain & China get a point each and both go through to the last 16.
South Africa are the first team to be eliminated. Shame, they played with speed & flair at times.

The second round of matches is now over and the teams to watch are still USA & France but I’d add Italy to the mix. Germany can’t be ruled out as they’ve won both matches with less than good performances and England are still on track….

#FIFAWWC Match 24
USA 3 vs Chile 0
As you’d expect USA dominate the match. Chile are playing well and do have some good attacks but USA are 3-0 up at half time after two headed goals from corners and one volley from the edge of the penalty area.
USA start to play some of that brilliant passing football second half but the Chilean GK is excellent and makes some fabulous saves.
Carli Lloyd misses a penalty for USA but it was a dubious decision so that’s only fair.
It’s a competent performance from USA but other teams will be reassured that they are not invincible.

#FIFAWWC Match 23
Sweden 5 vs Thailand 1
I miss most of the first half as I’ve been watching Tom play in an U14 tournament. His team made it to the semifinal but lost 1-0, well done on getting out of the group and giving everything this morning.
It’s already 3-0 to Sweden and they are totally dominant.
It ends 5-1, not a hugely exciting match…..but at least Thailand score.

#FIFAWWC Match 22
Canada 2 vs New Zealand 0
Canada absolutely dominate the match. It’s something like 21 shots to 2 but they just don’t have a very good conversion rate! They manage 2 goals in the second half, I don’t recall an on-target shot by NZ.
Solid performance by Canada.

#FIFAWWC Match 21
Netherlands 3 vs Cameroon 1
I love the Dutch fans, they are so….orange. It’s a great colour!
It is a very tetchy first half. Lots of little niggles ( the commentators call them ‘battles’) on the pitch and it’s unsettling NL. Maybe this is the Cameroon tactic…there’s an horrendous ‘follow-through’ from one Cameroon player that almost connects with a Dutch players’ head. Only a yellow card, could’ve been red.
NL respond perfectly with a great SvdS run down the right, cross and Miedema heads in.
Ooh, two minutes later it’s a Cameroon equaliser from a simple ball over the top of the defence, misjudgment from the NL GK, tiny Cameroon player heads it over the tall GK and then a simple side foot into the net. Game on…
It’s a set-piece corner from NL right at the start of the second half that gets them back into the lead. Let’s be honest – these are professional footballers who train hours & hours every week so you expect them to have a good repertoire of set-pieces.
It’s a good second half. The tetchiness has gone and Cameroon are trying really hard. They have one chance just squirm wide of the post but then NL attack and score from a blaster from Miedema. You can’t give her an inch of space….
It’s a solid performance from NL but great credit to Cameroon for making them work hard for the win.

#FIFAWWC Match 20
England 1 vs Argentina 0
It’s the morning after the match and I’m watching on iPlayer. I was out refereeing last night – a recreational tournament for the ‘missed generation’. I know the score but I want to see the performance.
We played really well. Argentina also played really well. England created lots of good chances, our link-up play was excellent, Fran Kirby was back (she’s actually my favourite player), we managed the match right until the end. Top marks for all the players.
It’s a very professional England performance.

#FIFAWWC Match 19
Jamaica 0 vs Italy 5
It’s an attacking game by both teams. They are full of running and keen to get forward. Italy have a chance and their player is brought down in the penalty area. It looked like the defender got the ball but VAR clearly showed she didn’t. The resulting penalty is saved really well by the Jamaican GK but VAR shows the GK strayed off her line by a smidge before the ball was kicked so she’s booked and the penalty is retaken and scored. This is great referee revision for me! It’s 1-0 to VAR….
Italy bundle a second goal from a corner that comes through the crowd in the penalty area and hits off an Italian knee.
It’s a rare mistake from the Jamaican GK right at the start of the second half and it’s a header for 3-0 Italy.
Here’s another observation from this tournament – I’ve not seen any arguing with officials and levels of sportsmanship are high. I know this is a feature throughout the women’s game and it’s great to see it on display to a wider audience that the World Cup attracts.
Jamaica aren’t giving up and are attacking at every opportunity. It’s an exciting match.
What was I saying about a lack of ‘top bins’ goals?! Fabulous one from Italy…. have they been reading my reports? 4-0. Italy are looking good.
I’m off to referee a women’s recreational tournament now so I’ll finish this here.

#FIFAWWC Match 18
Japan 2 vs Scotland 1
Scotland have good possession in the first 20 minutes. They are settling into the match and gaining confidence but there’s not much forward movement. They have a promising attack but the Assistant flags for offside, it really wasn’t, not by miles..Japan pick up the ball as it comes out from the Scottish defence, play a simple pass to their striker, she’s not closed down by a defender and blasts into the Scottish net.
Completely unexpectedly Japan are awarded a soft penalty. Keep your hands to yourself in the penalty area otherwise you give the referee no choice but to penalize you. It’s 2-0 Japan at half time. Come on Scotland, attack, attack…..
It’s a fairly even second half. Scotland have some good chances towards the end but they really don’t get any luck. A couple of penalty shouts, not given, hit the post once. Shame they didn’t attack like this 40 minutes ago.
Just as I’m thinking it’s all over Clelland scores ‘top bins’ and it’s 2-1 with 5 minutes to go. Sadly it’s all too late for Scotland.
What did I say in my match 17 report about ‘dubious falls’ and no glory goals?! Both in this match.

#FIFAWWC Match 17
South Africa 0 vs China 1
I got home from playing football just in time for the second half. It’s already 1-0 to China.
It’s not great football so I start reflecting on the matches so far: the standard of refereeing is infinitely better than the last World Cup; there haven’t been many long shots, no ‘top bins’ or glory goals; there have been a few ‘dubious falls’ in the penalty area; VAR is good for offside decisions but some of the late flags are unnecessary as the offside is obvious; VAR is not perfect and ultra slow motion footage will make any tackle look bad (poor Norway); the new Laws of the Game are OK but handball will always cause controversy.
Match ends with no more goals

#FIFAWWC Match 16
Australia 3 vs Brazil 2
It’s competitive but a bit scrappy, both teams being guilty of sloppy passing.
There’s a penalty shout for Australia but it’s ruled out by VAR, a penalty awarded to Brazil, not ruled out by VAR. Marta scores it.
It’s a great headed goal by Cristiane just before half time. There’s nothing fancy from Brazil but it’s just simple football.
Australia have a solid spell just before half time and are rewarded with a goal. Game on…1-2
Australia get the equaliser from one of those ‘was it a shot or was it a cross’ scenarios. Kerr did enough to distract the GK and the ball goes in the net 2-2. I’m off to play football now . This match could go either way…
Just as I’m leaving the house Brazil score an own goal. The referee has to watch VAR for a long time because the Australian striker was offside and she did interfere with a defender but not with the defender that put the ball into her own net. While I was out there were no more goals and Tom said I didn’t miss much….

#FIFAWWC Match 15
France 2 vs Norway 1
These are two good teams. Both played well in their opening matches and are continuing to do so. There’s a big home crowd which is good to see and hear. France have the edge but can’t convert their chances, Norway are dangerous on the counterattack.
Norway left their heads in the dressing room at half time and France take the lead with a straightforward goal in the first minute of the second half.
It’s an own goal equalizer for Norway – a cross into the France 6 yard box just needs a simple side foot away by Renard but she coolly slots it into her own goal. I’m not sure what she was thinking (or not thinking?)
It’s a very questionable penalty that gives France the lead. Come on Norway!
Try as they might Norway just can’t get the equaliser. France were the better team but they got lucky today.

#FIFAWWC Match 14
Germany 1 vs Spain 0
Both teams won their first matches but with poor performances so I’m sure their managers will be looking for improvements. Spain have the better chances first half but it’s Germany that take the lead just before half time by scrambling the rebounded ball into the net after a great save by the Spanish GK.
Spain tried really hard to get an equalizer but it just didn’t happen. Spain were the better team but Germany get the win, I’m sure that’s happened in the past a few times…

#FIFAWWC Match 13
Nigeria 2 vs South Korea 0
I’ll be honest – I’m not really watching this one. The TV is on but I’m only listening as I’m working. Yes, I have a job and don’t just sit & watch football all day! Shame….
Nigeria’s first goal is actually scored by South Korea – one of those own goals where the GK is coming forward to get the ball but the defender passes it back to where she thinks the GK is. I wonder if the GK gave a shout to her defender? The second goal is a good dribble by the Nigerian striker.
Well done Nigeria.

That’s the first round over and in my opinion the teams to watch are: USA, France, Norway. England & Scotland put in good performances. Other teams need to step it up….

#FIFAWWC Match 12
USA 13 vs Thailand 0
Last match of the first round of matches.
USA goals – 12, 19, 31, 49, 52, 53, 55, 73, 78, 80, 84, 86, 91 minutes
It’s a lesson in how to play football from USA.

#FIFAWWC Match 11
Chile 0 vs Sweden 2
The first half is dull. Sweden dominate possession but struggle to get through an organised Chilean defence. Chile’s GK is top notch but only has one real save to make. More of the same dreary football second half, although it starts pouring down then lightning and the referee suspends the match. I hope they don’t rush back….
Special mention to the BBC’s Jacqui Oatley – she’s commentating on her own and trying to find good things to say but it’s hard to find any. How many times can you mention ‘Chile have lost the ball’. It’s like watching paint dry and having to talk about it!!
When they resume Sweden scramble a goal and you can see the relief on their faces. A few minutes later they score a second with a fabulous individual run. It ends 2-0 but I don’t think Sweden will trouble any of the big teams in the tournament.

#FIFAWWC Match 10
New Zealand 0 vs Netherlands 1
I’ve been looking forward to watching this match as both are good teams. The first half is fairly even, with NZ edging it in my opinion with a couple of cracking shots that forced great saves from the GK. Miedema (NL) is a class apart, her twists & turns with the ball are mesmerizing. It’s 0-0 at half time and the NL manager has such a scowl on her face – I wouldn’t like to face her half time team ‘talk’!
Shanice Van der Sanden has leopard print hair – cool!
There are chances for both teams second half and it’s really good football. NL are European Champions so they would expect to win this but NZ are doing a great job of frustrating them. It’s a stoppage time winner for NL, real shame because NZ had the better chances all game.
Not a performance that NL will be pleased with but I think they’ll grow into the tournament.

#FIFAWWC Match 9
Canada 1 vs Cameroon 0
Missed most of this one as I was out at a meeting. The last 30 minutes is quite an even affair. Cameroon look a real handful and Canada are struggling to play good football. There are very few good chances.
It’s a win to Canada but they were made to work hard for it.

#FIFAWWC Match 8
Argentina 0 vs Japan 0
These teams are in Group D with England & Scotland and from what I’m seeing there isn’t much for either team to worry about.
First half is dull – Argentina have parked the bus and Japan are clueless about creating opportunities. Felt a bit sorry for Laura Bassett & Casey Stoney at half time having to talk about the first half…..
My only comment from the second half is ‘please let it be over ‘.
I’d be surprised if either of these teams make it out of the group.

#FIFAWWC Match 7
England 2 vs Scotland 1
It’s looking like England will have good possession this match and Scotland will look for a counterattacking goal. We’re all surprised that England are awarded a penalty on 12 minutes- the ball definitely hit an arm in Scotland’s penalty area and it’s VAR that bring it to the referee’s attention. Parris blasts it in! And relax….Kirby shoots an inch wide, come on England…fabulous move by England and equally fabulous save from Scotland’s GK. Goal from Ellen White, no it’s offside.
It’s sublime at times from England.
The match settles a bit and it looks like we’re winding down to half time. Scotland have a good chance then suddenly England attack and White shoots, gooooal!! 2-0 England.
It’s almost as if England are playing in phases – all out attack, sit back & rest, all out attack…
England score straight from KO in the second half but it’s offside again. These delayed offside flags are annoying….
Bright takes an awkward tumble in a challenge with Cuthbert and goes off, McManus is on.
Scotland have a good spell in the second half but England just soak up the pressure.
Another great save from Alexander in the Scotland goal.
Mead off and Carney on, good, she’s been fab recently.
It wouldn’t be an England match without some hairy moments and Scotland have some good chances second half. On 78 minutes they are rewarded with a goal. They deserved it. So it’s nail biting for the last 12 minutes….nothing changes there. Why do we let teams back into matches?
Kirby is off and Stanway on.
It’s a nervy end to the game. Fair play to Scotland they tried really hard and, at times, we let them but it ends 2-1.
England were outstanding at times but inconsistent and the defence is still a bit shaky.

#FIFAWWC Match 6
Brazil 3 vs Jamaica 0
It’s a Cristiane hat-trick for Brazil as the more experienced team make fairly light work of the Jamaicans. Jamaica are good in patches and I’m sure they’ll improve but it’s a tough opening match for them.
Formega (Brazil) is 41 years old so there’s hope for us ‘old girls’ yet! Special mention to the 19 year old Jamaican GK – she’s had a brilliant match, including a penalty save.
It’s a competent start from Brazil and all without ‘star’ player Marta.

#FIFAWWC Match 5
Australia 1 vs Italy 2
It’s a decent match of football between two evenly matched teams. It has moments of excitement, VAR is used many times for offsides, there are some feisty tackles, some cautions, Australia are pressing hard for a winner, Italy are dangerous on the counter attack and steal a winner deep into injury time. Good game for the neutral fan.

#FIFAWWC Match 4
Norway 3 vs Nigeria 0
I’m going to be honest – unless the first half is an absolute cracker I’m switching over at 9.15pm to watch #KillingEve. I’m a big fan and it’s the first episode of the new season.
First half both teams are playing good, attacking football but Norway are on fire – two cracking goals and then an unfortunate own goal from Nigeria mean that it’s 3-0 at half time.
It’s hard to see Nigeria coming back into the game so it’s Killing Eve for me….
It ends at 3-0 so I didn’t miss any goals!
Norway are looking good….ones to watch I think.

#FIFAWWC Match 3
Spain 3 vs South Africa 1
The SA players are tiny compared to the Spanish but they are really nippy. They are flamboyant, unpredictable, unfettered by the pressure of the tournament.The Spanish are a much more experienced & better organized team but I’m thinking this could be an exciting match. On 25 minutes SA score with a beautiful goal and I’m cheering like kid.
Spain have 73% possession 1st half but don’t look like scoring, SA hardly have the ball but look more likely to score. Bonkers!
Spain make a couple of substitutes at half time, let’s hope they bring a bit more excitement to their play. It’s pretty poor quality from both teams in the second half and I start making dinner because I’m bored.
Spain rescue the match with 2 penalties (handball & serious foul play), a SA player is sent off and there’s a good 3rd goal. The SA inexperience really showed 2nd half and it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped.
It might be a win for Spain but they’re not going to go far in the tournament if they play like this.

#FIFAWWC Match 2
Germany 1 vs China 0
Germany are playing their to their usual high standard but it’s China that I’m impressed with. They are physical, quick, brave, organized and Germany are a bit rattled. Yes, China are committing a lot of fouls, nothing nasty but a lot of clipped ankles which disrupts the German play. China have by far the better chances first half but don’t have a ruthless striker to put them away.
Germany bag a decent goal in the second half and, ever the professionals, see the game out.
It’s an unconvincing win to Germany.

#FIFAWWC Match 1
France 4 vs South Korea 0
It’s an easy win for the tournament hosts, France. They looked really comfortable and played good football. South Korea weren’t really any threat at all. For all of France’s great play & dominance I’m a bit surprised they only scored four. France are going a long way in the tournament.