France claimed a tense 2-1 win over Norway, Nigeria produced a 2-0 upset victory over Korea Republic and Germany saw off Spain 1-0 in 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup action on Thursday morning (AEST).
France 2 Norway 1
Eugenie Le Sommer's controversial penalty spared Wendie Renard's blushes after a calamitous own goal, as Women's World Cup hosts France beat Norway 2-1 to effectively seal a spot in the knockout phase.
The entertaining contest was unsurprisingly even after the two sides cruised to wins in their respective opening matches, but France just about did enough to leave themselves on the brink of qualification, with Le Sommer's crucial spot-kick the difference.
Although the host nation struggled at times in the first half, they rode the Norway storm and took full advantage right after half-time through the lively Valerie Gauvin.
Renard put into her own net soon after, but France remained focused and Le Sommer coolly dispatched a penalty, though Norway were convinced they were harshly penalised after the spot-kick was awarded following a VAR review.
Norway enjoyed a purposeful start and went desperately close in the 14th minute, but Ingrid Syrstad Engen's near-post flick-on at a corner was crucially cleared off the line and over the crossbar by Amel Majri.
France responded and almost found the net through Gauvin soon after, but her back-heel from Kadidiatou Diani did not have enough power to beat Ingrid Hjelmseth.
Norway finished the half strongest, with Sarah Bouhaddi making a save to deny Ingrid Moe Wold, but France opened the scoring less than a minute after the interval – Gauvin meeting Majri's left-wing cross and firing beneath Hjelmseth.
A calamitous own goal courtesy of Renard eight minutes later wiped out the lead, however, as the Lyon star tapped into her own net from Isabell Herlovsen's low cross.
But Le Sommer bailed her out 18 minutes from time after Engen was adjudged to have followed through on Marion Torrent, the converted penalty leaving France with six points from two games, almost certainly enough to see them into the next round.
Nigeria 2 Korea Republic 0
Nigeria took their chances against the run of play to beat Korea 2-0 for a rare victory at the Women’s World Cup to set themselves up with a chance of advancing to the next stage of the tournament in France.
A first half own goal at the Stade des Alps and a breakaway attack, brilliantly finished by Asisat Oshoala, ensured the Africa champions only their fourth win in eight World Cup finals appearances and a chance to go to the second round for just a second time.
The Koreans, beaten 4-0 by hosts France in the tournament opener on Saturday (AEST), are all but out of contention after a surprise setback in their second Group A game.
After weathering Korea’s early attacks, Nigeria went ahead just before the half hour mark when defender Kim Do-yeon miscued an effort to try to clear a long ball through the middle and steered it past her goalkeeper Kim Min-jung, who had come rushing out of her goal and was stranded.
There was a lengthy Video Assistant Referee review to see whether Nigeria’s captain Desire Oparanozie might have brushed the ball with her hand as she headed to the goal but there was no conclusive evidence to rule out the goal.
Korea were pulled back for offside when they found the net in the 58th minute before a Nigeran counter attack saw Oshoala, a three-time African women’s Footballer of the Year, ran half the length of the field, brushed past a defender, rounded the goalkeeper and squeezed the ball home from an almost improbable angle.
She might have scored in similar fashion just two minutes after the 75th minute goal but a heavy first touch saw the opportunity slip away.
Nigeria lost their opening game 3-0 to Norway.
Germany 1 Spain 0
Sara Daebritz scored the only goal of the game as Germany beat Spain 1-0 in their Women's World Cup Group B match to all but secure a spot in the next round.
The two-times champions, who beat China in their group opener, are on six points, with Spain in second on three.
China and South Africa, who play each other on Thursday, have no points.
Spain had more possession, but Germany looked more dangerous despite missing the injured Dzsenifer Marozsan.
Daebritz grabbed the winner on the rebound in the 42nd minute to stretch Germany's unbeaten run to 14 matches, the longest of any team in France.
The introduction of Germany's 18-year-old Klara Buehl after the break instantly gave them more pace and options in attack as Spain gradually dropped deeper.
Germany play South Africa next, while Spain take on China.