16 teams have become eight as the Women’s World Cup 2023 has entered the quarter final stage. Eight are still dreaming of glory whilst eight are heading home, but here’s how this was all decided:
The knockouts began early for those living in the UK with Switzerland vs Spain kicking off at 6am, but it was certainly a game worth waking up for - it was an Aitana Bonmati masterclass. The Spanish immediately responded to their 4-0 defeat to Japan in the final group stage game, with the midfield maestro herself, opening up the scoring in the fifth minute, cutting the ball back on to her left foot before producing a clinical finish. Up to this point, Switzerland hadn’t conceded a single goal in the tournament. Spain secured their first ever win in a knockout match at a major tournament with further goals from Redondo, Codina, Hermoso, and a second strike from Bonmati who was described by the commentator as “cold as ice in the penalty area”. This 5-1 victory sees them progress to the quarter-finals where they will face the Netherlands.
Despite beginning to play to their potential with their final group stage game seeing them defeat Philippines 6-0, Norway were unable to bypass Japan at the Wellington Regional Stadium. Hinata Miyazawa scored her fifth goal of the tournament making her the current top goalscorer, leading her team to their fourth consecutive win and booking their spot in the quarter-finals where they will play Sweden.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup runners-up have also progressed to the quarter-finals. South Africa did not sit back against the Dutch, creating chances and looking dangerous throughout the 90 minutes, but they were unable to convert their chances in front of goal. Jill Roord and Lineth Beerensteyn secured victory for their side, with Roord becoming the Netherlands’ all-time scorer in FIFA Women’s World Cups with five goals. Will they have what it takes to beat the Spanish in the quarter-finals?
Then came the penalties. Sweden knocked USA out of the competition before they could reach the quarter-finals for the first ever time. The reigning World Cup champions scored four penalties, whilst the reigning Olympic silver medalists scored five after a goalless 90 minutes, and goalless extra time. The USA have only ever been eliminated before the semi-finals of a major tournament twice, both times by Sweden, and both times on penalties. There was a VAR wait to confirm whether Lina Hurtig’s penalty kick had crossed the line, and much to the USA’s dismay, it had, confirming that the Swedish will be in the quarter-finals, facing Japan. The emotions of the Swedish and American players showed exactly how unpredictable this tournament can be.
The second of the penalty shootouts was between England and Nigeria. After a difficult 90 minutes for the Lionesses that saw them struggle in front of goal and saw their defence tested by the Nigerian attackers, the game went to extra time where England had to play with 10 following Lauren James’ sending off for a challenge on Alozie. England made it through extra time to penalties where they won 4-2. After Georgia Stanway missed her penalty, Bethany England, Rachel Daly and Alex Greenwood all buried theirs into the back of the net with the deciding penalty being left to Chloe Kelly. She’s known for scoring in the crucial moments for her country: winning goal in the Euro 2022 final, winning penalty in the Finalissima, and winning penalty to send England to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. The speed of her penalty was recorded at 110.79 km/h - more powerful than any shot in the 22/23 Premier League season. Her penalty sent the Lionesses through to the quarter-finals where they will come up against Colombia.
Foord and Raso helped the Matildas keep their World Cup dreams alive on home soil as they fired the nation into the quarter-finals. Caitlin Foord opened up the scoring in the first half, striking low into the bottom corner, assisted by Mary Fowler, with Hayley Raso doubling the advantage in the second, scoring her third goal of the tournament. The Matildas’ star girl and captain, Sam Kerr, made her first appearance of the tournament, coming off the bench in the 80th minute to an incredible reception from the fans who celebrated her return from injury, and the nation’s second ever victory in the Women’s World Cup knockouts.
Colombia booked their ticket to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history after beating Jamaica 1-0 at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, following a sensational group stage campaign. Both teams struggled to play their style of football in the first half, but a second-half goal by Cataline Usme brought the game to life. Usme’s strike makes her Colombia’s leading scorer in the competition with three goals. Colombia’s head coach spoke after the match saying, “it is a triumph of a group that has made an effort to have consistency, character, personality”, portraying the pride she has for the team.
The final game in the round of 16 saw France defeat Morocco 4-0 who were playing in their first ever knockout game. Despite their exit from the tournament, Morocco can be proud of the history they have made as the first Arab country to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and for progressing as far into the tournament as they did. The French scored three before half-time, with Eugenie Le Sommer scoring the fourth in the 70th minute becoming France’s all-time top scorer with 92 international goals. France will face Australia in the quarter-finals.
The round of 16 matches have shaped an extremely exciting quarter-finals for the 2023 edition of the Women’s World Cup.