If Day One was a tight, tense affair – a late penalty kick was required to give Canada the win over China and just a single goal proved the difference between Netherlands and New Zealand - Day Two was anything but. A whopping fourteen goals were scored over the two matches in Group B, with Norway and Germany emerging the clear class of the quintet.
Live from downtown Ottawa and the refurbished Landsdowne Stadium, the day began with the Norwegian side, under the guidance of former Canadian National Team manager, Even Pellerud, dispatching their Thai opponents with relative ease; scoring three goals through the opening 34 minutes before taking their foot off the gas in the second half.
Two minutes after Ada Hegerberg put a header off the post in the 13th minute, captain Trine Ronning would give The Grasshoppers the lead with a right-footed free-kick to the right-side of goal, bending her effort up and around the wall. Thailand's keeper, Warapom Boonsing got a hand to it, but could not prevent the blast from crossing the line.
The Norwegians would add a second in the 29th – Isabel Herlovsen sending a low, left-footer across the keeper after a nice build-up – and a third in the 34th – Herlovsen again, touching in a cross from Solveig Gulbrandsen on the right – to put themselves firmly in control, taming The War Elephants (awesome) of Thailand.
Herlovsen would be denied a first-half hat-trick in the 37th minute when she was correctly ruled offside.
The Norwegians would seal the result, as if it were ever in question, in the 68th when Hegerberg got her goal, right-footing into the open net after a strong run up the right from Elise Thorsnes. But the largest cheer of the night would be reserved for the Thai keeper, Boonsing, who dove to her right, saving a Maren Mjelde penalty kick in the 74th minute after her captain, Duangnapa Sritala was adjudged to have handled in the area.
A solid 4-0 win was a good first match for the Norwegians, who are expected to move on to the next round with ease.
The second match of the group pitted powerhouses Germany against tournament debutantes, Cote d'Ivoire. Not to be outdone by Norway's plus-four goal-differential, the Germans would never relenquish, proffering no mercy to the inexperienced, 67th-ranked Ivorians.
It took just three minutes for Die Nationalelf to take the lead, Celia Sasic scoring the first of her three goals, tucking in a square ball from Leonie Maier on the right. Eleven minutes later she would take her second, nodding a right-sided cross from Lena Goessling past a helpless Cote d'Ivoire keeper, Dominique Thiamale.
Germany would score three more before the half-time whistle, erasing Norway's differential-advantage, with Anja Mittag scoring in the 29th on a Goessling through-ball, Sasic completing her hat-trick in the 31st at the left-post on another cross from Maier, and Mittag again in the 35th calmly slotting a pull-back from Simone Laudehr past the keeper at the short-side.
When the second half began, Les Elephantes nearly had their moment in the sun, bringing even more smiles to the some-two hundred travelling fans who made the short journey north from Montreal to support their girls. Binta Diakite went up for an aerial ball with the German keeper, Nadine Angerer, who spilled it, allowing Diakite to hook a finish into the open net. The referee however, cruelly whistled for a supposed-foul, denying the Ivorians a spot of encouragement.
That brief ray of sunshine lapsed; the Germans stormed the net, scoring five more goals to balance their output across the two halves.
Mittag completed her trio of goals in the 63rd, pouncing on a poor headed back-pass from a defender to beat Thiamale with a low left-footer. Laudehr would join in on the fun, cutting in from the right to score in the 71st, and Sara Daebritz would make it 8-0 in the 75th minute, getting on the end of a square pass from Lena Petermann.
Four minutes later Melanie Behringer put her name on the score-sheet with a right-footed blast from inside the box when a cross fell kindly to her and Alexander Popp capped off the flurry with Germany's tenth in the 85th minute, beating the keeper with a low free-kick to the left-side of goal.
The Germans will be a force to be reckoned with in this tournament, but one wonders whether the football gods were angered by such an abuse of goal-scoring.
For Monday, the action moves to Groups C and D, who both make their entrance to the tournament, at Vancouver's BC Place and Winnipeg's, creatively-named, Winnipeg Stadium, respectively. A day that will see two more elites teams, the Japanese and the Americans, enter the fray.
Group C begins when Cameroon play Ecuador at 7 pm (EST) in the first match in Vancouver, before title-holders Japan face Switzerland at 10 pm (EST). And Group D begins with Sweden against Nigeria at 4 pm (EST), leading into the highlight fixture of the day as the USA lines up against Australia in prime-time, with kickoff set for 7:30 pm (EST).
A tip of the hat to the Canadian fans who have attended the matches so far, both for their volume and for their hearty support of the underdogs, especially yesterday. Both The War Elephants and Les Elephantes were thoroughly outplayed on Day Two, but the local fans without allegiances made sure their efforts were appreciated. Though, of course, it may just be that Canada loves elephants – who doesn't?
Enjoy Day Three!