Football Features

Chile miss out by a single goal: Women’s World Cup Winners & losers from Group F

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:16, 20 June 2019

The 2019 Women’s World Cup group phase concluded in dramatic fashion this evening.

As the USA maintained their perfect start at Sweden’s expense, Chile compounded another defeat on Thailand but came agonisingly short of reaching the knockout stage.

The final whistles in Le Havre and Rennes signalled the end of the phony war, business is now about to pick up as we enter the knockout phase.

Jill Ellis’ defending champions passed their first significant test and will be the ones to beat. Sweden, tasting a first loss in France, join them but will draw lessons from this setback. Elsewhere, there were contrasting emotions as Chile won but missed out on joining their group rivals by the smallest of margins. As for Thailand, this difficult championship is now behind them.

Here are the winners and losers from the final games of Group F.

Winner: Lindsey Horan

Earlier in the week, it took Sweden five minutes and 24 seconds to go in front against hapless Thailand, making it the fastest goal scored at this summer’s tournament, but Linda Sembrant’s effort barely lasted in the record book. She would be on the pitch to see the new standard, but not in the way she’d hoped.

A relentless opening from the world champions saw them earn a corner; the subsequent cross was meekly defended and Lindsey Horan popped up to score her second of the championship. Importantly, her tap-in was clocked at two minutes and 40 seconds. It’s going to take something special to beat that.

Loser: Julia Zigiotti Olme

Yikes. She will not want to look back on this. As mentioned, Sweden’s defending for USA’s third-minute corner left a lot to be desired. It was frustrating all round. Megan Rapinoe, who had won the kick following piece of individual brilliance, saw a tame ball into the Swedish penalty area flicked on by Sam Mewis and that trickling ball was put in by the onrushing Horan.

It should – and could – have ended differently, though, if Julia Zigiotti Olme, situated at the front post, had been quick to react instead of allowing Mewis to drift across, thus being allowed to become active. In such a game where chances may be at a premium, it’s moments like these which end up being decisive.

Winner: USWNT’s backline

Defence wins championships, as the old saying goes. For all their brilliance going forward, the United States hardly gave their opponents a sniff. Yes, their first two opponents were modest at best, though you can’t say that about Sweden, who have title ambitions of their own.

Heading into the knockout phase, Jill Ellis’ team are yet to concede – a feat they share with fellow co-favourites Germany. This will hold them in good stead, challenging games are on the horizon and they will not always be perfect but with a steady back-four, few will bet against them successfully retaining their crown.

Loser: Waraporn Boonsing

Thailand can take so much heart from their participation at this summer’s tournament. Although they depart on the back of two humblings – including that record 13-0 defeat to a ruthless United States – without facing such competition it’s hard to see them improving down the road and that is not being condescending.

Facing an equally poor Chile side was their best shot of heading home with a victory under their belt. That, unfortunately, didn’t come to pass and a big reason was Waraporn Boonsing’s unlucky own-goal. That error and María José Urrutia’s late effort made another unwanted piece of history – their 20 conceded goals are the most shipped in by a team at a single WWC finals.

Winner: Tobin Heath

She never stopped running and her tireless efforts paid off shortly after the interval. Tobin Heath has long been part of the USWNT furniture, amassing over 150 caps in a decade-long run and though the New Jersey-born forward is a reliable source of goals, it’s her off-the-ball work that deserves attention today.

But her 50th-minute strike, assisted by the immortal Carli Llyod, was Heath’s first this summer and one for the record books. No team before them, including their previous incarnations, had managed to net 18 goals in a WWC group stage. Next up is Spain and they have been warned.

Loser: Francisca Lara

No one wants to be left behind in the biggest ever WWC. As commendable as goalkeeper Christiane Endler has been, she’s been incredibly let down by her outfield players. Chile exit France 2019 with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Thailand but it shouldn’t have ended on this scoreline.

This, if anything, was a moral victory. Before tonight, Chile were the only goalless side left. But this was a wasted opportunity to fill their boots, especially considering how leaky Thailand have been.

Nothing illustrated that point more than Francisca Lara’s missed penalty with four minutes remaining of normal time. If that had been converted, she would have been a national hero. Chile needed to win by a three-goal margin to stay on. Instead, they agonisingly fell one short and go home.

As they board the flight home, it becomes even more galling when you consider China, who have managed one goal – which came in their victory over South Africa – are knockout phase-bound.

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