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Canada 2015 – Women's World Cup Day Eight Review & Day Nine Preview

Waking the Red recaps all the action from the eighth day of the 2015 Women's World Cup and looks ahead to Day Nine

High Fives all around, as the first four teams moving on to the Knockout Round have been decided - yes, China is one of them
High Fives all around, as the first four teams moving on to the Knockout Round have been decided - yes, China is one of them
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The day began with a pair of Group B matches that would determine which of the four teams would move on; it was a group that had few surprises, as both Germany and Norway would clinch those top spots and guarantee themselves passage to the Knockout Rounds.

In Winnipeg, the Germans continued their dominance, handily handing Thailand a 0-4 defeat, but not until after the War Elephants gave them an early scare when Kanajana Sung-Ngoen stole down the left, clear in on goal, only to hesitate too long thereby allowing a pair of defenders to recover and block her attempt with a timely intervention.

Germany would crush any hopes of an upset in the 24th minute when Melanie Leupolz met a right-sided out-swinging Melanie Behringer corner kick just below the penalty spot, looping her header to the left-side of goal, beyond the reach of any Thai defenders or the keeper. Thailand could feel hard done by on that opener, as the final touch that resulted in the corner appeared to come off a German head

Half-time substitute Lena Petermann then closed out the match at the start of the second half with a two-minute brace, scoring her first in the 56th and a second in the 58th minute. The first came on a cross from Bianca Schmidt on the right, hanging up a ball to the back-post, where Petermann got on the end, forcing it over the line.

The second came from another corner kick, Petermann meeting a left-sided in-swinging delivery at the near-post after peeling away from goal - and her marker - to make contact, guiding her finish high to that near-side.

Sara Daebritz capped off the night in the 73rd minute, scoring the tournament-leading fifteenth goal for Die Nationalelf. Anja Mittag profited from some good work down the right-side of the box, working into position for a pull-back, finding the hot boot of Petermann, who was denied her hat-trick. The rebound spilled to the clear left-side, where Daebritz was on hand to tap in to the open goal.

Germany would clinch the top spot in the group with seven points and a plus-fourteen goal-differential, while Thailand will have to wait out the completion of group matches to see if their three points and minus-seven are good enough to move on – unlikely.

Even with that German win – recall the matches were played simultaneously – Norway had a chance to steal away first place, but required a bushel full of goals to do so. They would end the group phase with a plus-six, eight shy of Germany's mark – an indication of what kind of result they would have required to upend that order.

Cote d'Ivoire on the other hand, were all but eliminated, yet to collect a single point, and with a hefty goal-deficit in tow.

In Moncton, Norway wasted little time, scoring their first after just six minutes when Ada Hegerberg was played down the left-side of the box by a headed knock-down from Emilie Haavi. Solveig Gulbrandsen had popped a ball high in the air, which Haavi won, feeding the ball for Hegerberg who thumped a right-footer past the Ivorian keeper, Cynthia Djohore, from a tight-angle.

Gresshoppene would have to wait until the 62nd minute to double their lead, trebling it in short order thereafter. Hederberg got the first, latching on to a poked through-ball to race in on goal unchallenged, beating the keeper with a high, left-footed shot.

Gulbrandsen would score the third five minutes later, after a deep free-kick from the right of centre was knocked down at the left-post, falling to the right-side for her to touch across the line.

Though well beaten, Les Elephantes would end their first appearance at the Women's World Cup in style, Ange Nguessan closing out their tournament with a stunning right-footed strike from distance that sailed high into the top-right corner, past the helpless, out-stretched arms of Norwegian keeper, Ingrid Hjelmseth.

The 1-3 win was enough to seal up second spot for Norway – they finished on seven points and plus-six, but not enough to catch the Germans; Cote d'Ivoire's tournament may have ended pointless and with a minus-thirteen, but they made steps and turned some heads with moments of quality; enough to build upon over the ensuing four-year cycle.

With Group B sorted, attention turned to Group A, a jumbled mess with each team still hoping to move on to the ensuing rounds.

Winnipeg hosted one match, between China and New Zealand, that ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw, further muddying the prognostications of who would progress through the group.

The Football Ferns would score the first in the 28th minute, Rebekah Stott the beneficiary of a bizarre domino of spills at the back-post when a left-sided corner kick bounced through the goal-mouth. A trio of players fell to the floor in the ball's path, leaving the finish to Stott, who blasted a right-footer in from a tight angle at the short-side.

China would respond in the 41st minute from a controversial penalty kick called on Betsey Hassett, who replays showed did not handle as she blocked a bouncing ball, but the fates cared not for such details, as Wang Lisi thumped her right-footed kick high to the left-side of goal. Erin Nayler drove correctly to her right, but could not reach the well-placed penalty.

The Steel Roses (Forceful is now absent from their Wikipedia page) would add a second on the hour-mark when Wang Shanshan bravely went up for a header after a ball was floated towards goal from deep on the right, winning the touch into the open net as Nayler went up to challenge; too late by fractions of a second.

New Zealand responded four minutes later, re-equalizing when a cross from the left was met at the back-post by Amber Hearn, knocking down into the middle for the awaiting Hannah Wilkinson, who made no mistake, pouncing with a strong right-footed half-volley from inside the six yard box.

Both sides would see chances to win go astray, Shanshan would waste a glorious look, mis-hitting her volley wide and Kiwi-Captain Abby Erceg watched in agony as her goal-bound, bullet-header was cleared off the right-post by Lui Shanshan.

The 2-2 draw would see China PR on four points and a zero goal-differential, while New Zealand closed out group play with two points and a minus-one.

The final match of the evening, played concurrently with that above, took place in front of a massive crowd in Montreal, as 45-thousand-plus took in Canada's final group match, a tricky encounter with Netherlands.

Buoyed on by the raucous, partisan crowd, Canada started like a bolt, scoring the opener in the 10th minute when a Sophie Schmidt shot from the right was blocked, falling kindly for Ashley Lawrence on the left-side of the area, who beat the Dutch keeper, Loes Geurts, with a powerful left-footer to that side of goal.

But as has dogged them all tournament, Canada struggled to convert chances into goals, seeing a plethora of them go begging, including two quality looks from Jessie Fleming, who nearly grabbed the first of what will undoubtedly be a long and successful role on the world's stage.

After the high, there is always a downfall, and a foreshadowing of that for the Flying Moose – yup, sticking with that for now – came when Erin McLeod was forced into a vital, emergency save, rushing off her line to close down a chance from Manon Melis on the break.

The Leeuwinnen, as the Oranje are apparently sometimes called, found their equalizer in the 87th minute when Canada was exposed one final time for the risky game they played at the back.

There was far too much space all match for the Dutch in wide attacking positions, thankfully, at least from one perspective, a stunning evening from Allysha Chapman, aside from that tackle that could well have been called a penalty, had kept the opponent at bay. But this time, even she could not make up the ground after a midfield turnover sprung a textbook Dutch counter, Melis finding Kirsten Van De Ven in that space on the attacking left, for a right-footed blast high into the net over the helpless McLeod.

The 1-1 draw in Montreal, as well as the 2-2 in Winnipeg, was good enough for Canada to take the top spot in Group A, rounding out the group stage unbeaten, on five points and a plus-one after three matches. That result assured China would take second spot, on four points and zero, though they were tied on those figures with the Dutch, who lost head to head, but more importantly, had scored one goal fewer – as goals-scored in the next time-breaker after points and goal-difference.

New Zealand's tournament ends prematurely, though it was indeed a tough group, especially as compared to some of the others, while Netherlands must wait for results elsewhere to determine their fate – their four points and zero differential has them holding down the top third-placed spot at the moment, but there are still four more groups to be concluded.

Day Nine will see two of those four, Group C and D, come to their end, starting with a pair of matches at 5 pm (EST).

In Group C Switzerland and Cameroon, tied on three points, will face off in Edmonton to see who will be assured of a place in the knockout round, while in Winnipeg Japan, who have already sealed top spot, will face lowly Ecuador; the Ecuadoreans looking to close out their tournament debut without seeing their massive minus-fifteen goal-differential be expanded much further – baby steps.

The 8 pm (EST) start times will seal Group D. The Americans, on four points through two matches, are all but assured of a place in the next round, but face an unpredictable opponent in Nigeria, still scrapping for the second spot. Both Sweden and Australia, on two and three points, respectively, will also be eyeing that guaranteed spot with the knowledge that a win means moving on.

Just two more days of group stage play remain, so enjoy them. After that, the real drama begins.