EDMONTON, Canada (Reuters) - Australia eliminated Brazil from the Women’s World Cup on Sunday to advance to the quarter-finals along with a convincing France and battling hosts Canada.
A goal from substitute Kyah Simon 10 minutes from the end earned Australia a 1-0 win over a Brazil team who had won all three of their games in the group stage.
France reinforced the view of many that they are favorites for the title with a classy 3-0 win over South Korea, while a 52nd minute goal from Josee Belanger gave Canada a 1-0 victory over Switzerland in front of a crowd of 53,855 in Vancouver.
Australia had never won a knock-out round game in the World Cup and were up against a Brazil team that had not conceded a single goal in the group stage.
But Australia’s combination of well-organized defense, relentless work in midfield and pacy counter-attacking paid off.
The decisive goal came when substitute Katrina Gorry won the ball in midfield and sprayed the ball out wide to Lisa De Vanna, whose low shot was spilled out by Brazil keeper Luciana to Simon who slotted home.
“I think we are one of the most dangerous teams at the World Cup if not the most dangerous team going forward,” said Australian coach Alen Stajcic.
“With such a young team, you just see so much growth and development in such a short space of time. If they keep growing, we can beat anyone in the world.”
France certainly look capable of beating anyone but will need to be at their very best in the last eight, where they will face Germany.
The Koreans, without their best player Ji So-yun because of injury, were no match at all for Philippe Bergeroo’s team, who were 2-0 up within eight minutes.
Marie Laure Delie opened the scoring in the fourth minute, ending a fast-flowing passing move with a precise finish.
Four minutes later Elodie Thomis fired home after racing into the box to pick up a pass from Olympique Lyonnais team mate Eugenie Le Sommer. Delie added her second and France’s third in the 48th minute. South Korean coach Yoon Deok-yeo said his side simply had not been able to deal with the fluid passing and movement of the French.
“Their speed was incredible ... and our defenders had trouble coping with that,” he said.
Canada were pushed hard by World Cup debutants Switzerland and struggled to find their rhythm but their endeavor was rewarded with Belanger’s winner.
Rhian Wilkinson crossed from the right and Christine Sinclair laid the ball off to Belanger, whose first time shot beat Swiss keeper Gaelle Thalmann.
It was a tough loss to take for a Switzerland team who had created more in the final third, largely thanks to the inspired individual skills of forward Ramona Bachmann.
Canada coach John Herdman now faces the prospect of coming up against the country of his birth if England can beat Norway on Monday but did not consider it a potential conflict of interests.
“I’m a Geordie first and foremost, we have our own Geordie nation in the north east of England, and Canadian second, this is my country this is my place, I’d love to see England or Norway it makes no difference.” England face the Scandinavians in Ottawa while Monday’s other game sees the United States take on Colombia in Edmonton.
Editing by Nick Mulvenney