It was a day for celebration for Cameroon, Nigeria, United States and Netherlands at the Women’s World Cup, but Chile bowed out in heart-breaking fashion.
The United States wrapped up a perfect group stage at the Women’s World Cup with a 2-0 win over Sweden on a dramatic final day of group play in France.
Elsewhere, Francisca Lara’s late penalty miss saw Chile eliminated from the as Cameroon and Nigeria celebrated qualification for the last 16.
Thursday’s action saw the group stage come to a dramatic conclusion as Chile bowed out despite a 2-0 win over Thailand.
Needing victory by three goals to advance from Group F as one of the four best third-placed teams, La Roja led through Waraporn Boonsing’s own goal and Maria Jose Urrutia’s header.
Goalkeeper Boonsing then fouled the Chile striker in the box, but Lara’s 86th-minute spot-kick thudded against the crossbar as the World Cup debutants were dumped out, with several players in tears at the final whistle.
The result meant Nigeria – who finished third in Group A – moved into the knockout rounds, where they will be joined by Cameroon, dramatic 2-1 victors over New Zealand in Group E.
Ajara Nchout’s opener was cancelled out by Aurelle Awona’s desperate own goal, but Nchout secured a last-16 berth with a fine finish in the 95th minute.
The other match in Group E saw Netherlands secure top spot as Anouk Dekker and Lineth Beerensteyn netted either side of Christine Sinclair’s leveller to seal a 2-1 win over Canada.
Defending champions the United States matched Netherlands in advancing with a perfect record from Group F as Lindsey Horan’s strike after 160 seconds – the fastest goal of the tournament – was added to by Jonna Andersson’s own goal in a 2-0 victory over Sweden.
The misfortunes of Awona, Andersson and Boonsing on Thursday mean that own goals top the World Cup scoring charts after the group stage, three clear of USA’s Alex Morgan and Australia’s Sam Kerr.
Nigeria’s Super Falcons had since Monday waited with bated breath as the four tickets were being clinched one by one, first by China, then by Brazil and later by Cameroon.
Now that they have qualified, they will meet Germany on Saturday at Grenoble in the first match of the Round of 16 stage.
The Falcons have only advanced beyond the group stage once in their earlier seven appearances at the World Cup, and they lost to the Germans 1-0 in the 2011 edition of the competition.
Last-16 ties in full:
Germany v Nigeria
Norway v Australia
England v Cameroon
France v Brazil
Spain v United States
Sweden v Canada
Italy v China
Netherlands v Japan