Day Four, the last before the games pause and the action begins anew from the top, saw the final two groups, E and F, get underway in Montreal and Moncton, respectively.
Group F kicked off the action early, as old rivals France and England fittingly took to the pitch in Moncton, that Acadian paradise.
The match would be decided by a single goal, a blistering right-footed blast from Eugenie Le Somme in the 29th minute, beating the English keeper, Karen Bardsley low to the short-side after Gaetane Thiney poked a ball forward into the path of her teammate, attacking the right-channel – an early candidate for goal of the tournament.
Both sides would have half-chances, thanks in part to some adventurous goalkeeping, but the best look came in the 70th minute when Camille Abily's shot was blocked by a prone English defender, Steph Houghton, lying on the pitch after catching the top of an opponent's head in the face as the attacker attempted a back-headed flick – that looked painful, very painful.
That same play saw Abily elbow another English defender, Laura Bassett, in the face as she went up to win the initial ball – some bad blood and more than a little grit in this meeting of enemies.
With the 1-0 win, Les Bleues take the three points, leaving the The Three Lionesses to lick their wounds in wait of another match on Saturday.
Switching over to Group E, Spain opened their tournament against Latin opponents Costa Rica in Montreal's cavernous stadium – the attendance, especially in Montreal left a little to be desired.
It took just thirteen minutes for La Roja to get on the board, via that most Spanish of tacts, the short corner kick. Regaining the ball after a one-two, Spainish left-winger Sonia Bermudez swung a low ball into the top of the area for the late arriving Vicky Losada, making a near-post run. Losada attempted to flick into the middle, but when that did not come off, she quickly adapted, hitting a bending left-footer to the far-side of goal, beating the Costa Rican keeper, Dinnia Diaz, who was late to see the shot through the crowd.
Las Ticas would respond immediately: a long ball up the left flank was knocked down by Carolina Venegas, straight into the path of the onrushing full-back, Lixy Rodriguez, who beat a pair of Spanish defenders to gain the end-line before pulling back an inviting pass to the edge of the six-yard box. Raquel Rodriguez Cedeno arrived, on a magnificently-timed run, to tap into the open net with her left-boot.
Spain would waste a few chances to reinstate their lead – a curling effort bound for the top, left-corner of the goal from Maria Barrantes was parried by Costa Rican keeper, Diaz, while Natalia Pablos whisked an effort wide of the post – and the match would end level, a 1-1 draw.
Back in Group F, Colombia and Mexico would take to the pitch in Moncton for the group's second match, battling to their own 1-1 draw.
The Mexicans would take the lead, Veronica Perez scoring straight from a left-sided corner kick when her swinging ball was tipped onto the bar by the Colombian keeper, Stefany Castano. It would be cleared by defenders inside the goal, but not before it had crossed the line; the veracity of which was proven by goal-line technology, its first use this tournament.
Undaunted, Colombia would look to respond, though they were cruelly denied an equalizer in the 55th minute when a misplayed ball from Mexican defender Valeria Miranda allowed Daniela Montoya to steal in on goal and finish with a right-footer past the keeper – the play was called back for a supposed foul and Miranda was booked for her efforts.
Another chance for Las Chicas Superpoderosas (yes, that is a nickname of theirs, unless Wikipedia is lying) would go wanting when Yoreli Rincon's free-kick was tipped onto the far-post by a flapping intervention from Mexican keeper, Cecilia Santiago.
But come the 82nd minute Montoya would have her revenge with a right-footed screamer from distance after Tatiana Ariza corralled a ball at the top of the box, laying off to her teammate. The shot, kissing off the underside of the bar at the left-side of the goal, was another candidate for goal of the tourney.
El Tri would see a late winner ruled out as well, ensuring the match ended level, as Charlyn Corral pounced on a loose ball to scuff a right-footer past the Colombian keeper. Play was called back for an apparent foul on Stephany Mayor, who deflected the cross down with her back, bumping a defender in the process.
Group F would close out their opening set with France on top, three points and a plus-one, while Mexico and Colombia sit tied on one point each; England brings up the rear with zero points and a minus-one goal-differential.
The evening's final match saw Brazil take on Korea Republic (aka South Korea) in front of far too many empty seats in Montreal, closing out the opening round of matches in Group E and group-play in general.
The Brazilians took the lead in the 33rd minute following a strong run up the middle from Cristiane. She would run into a wall of defenders, but an under-hit back-pass from Kim Do-yeon allowed Formiga to steal onto the ball, beating the Korean keeper, Kim Jung-mi, with a stabbed right-footed finish.
A Selecao would double their lead in the 53rd minute, aided by another poor Korean touch. A second weak back-ball allowed Formiga to pounce again, surging into the box, only to be upended by the outstretched leg of defender Cho So-hyun.
The referee pointed to the spot and Marta stepped up, beating the keeper with a left-footer low to the left-side of goal, having eyed Jung-mi to the other side. With that goal, Marta became the top scorer of all-time in the Women's World Cup with fifteen goals, surpassing German legend Birgit Prinz.
The Taeguek Ladies would look to respond, but were denied when Jeon Ga-eul's shot was deflected wide en route to goal by Fabiana, covering for her keeper who had gone wandering when a ball into the area from Kim Hye-ri found the streaking Kim Hye-yeong, who sagely picked out her teammate near the penalty spot after curling her run.
It was Brazil who would find the final chance, a wonderful attacking play that saw Formiga play in Cristiane down the left, but she unselfishly tried to tee up Marta at the back-post, only for a strong defensive recovery from Lee Eun-mi to intervene.
With the 2-0 win, Brazil takes top spot in Group E on three points and a plus-two goal-differential; Spain and Costa Rica sit tied on one point apiece, while Korea Republic rest on zero and minus-two.
The tournament pauses for a day, a chance to regroup and take a breath, before Thursday sees the action resume with the second offering of group-stage fixtures for Groups A and B.
Beginning in Ottawa and Group B, Germany and Norway, who both won their opening matches by sizable margins, meet in a match that will likely determine who will top the group at 4 pm (EST). Group A in Edmonton follows in short order, as China PR and Netherlands meet at 6 pm (EST). Back in Group B, Cote d'Ivoire and Thailand will both look to respond from their heavy losses at 7 pm (EST). And finally, at 9 pm (EST), Canada returns to the pitch to face New Zealand, their next challenge in Edmonton.
The opening volley of matches can be both tentative, teams wary of dropping point early, and determinative, as wins and losses there can prove crucial to final positions, but with the second frame ahead, a better idea who has what it takes to move on and who will be left behind should begin to form.
The recap will return on Friday to review Thursday's action. Enjoy!