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2023 Women's World Cup

The Big Story Day 9: Argentina rally to draw South Africa, England win overshadowed by injury, China stuns Haiti

James Whitehead / SPP

Day 9 of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup opened with Argentina facing off against South Africa and was followed by England taking on Denmark and China going up against Haiti.

Couldn’t watch and need to know what the big story is? This is what happened on the ninth day of the World Cup.

Your bite-sized recap of Day 9 of the 2023 Women’s World Cup

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South Africa 2, Argentina 2

The Big Story:  Argentina struggled with the speed of the South Africa counterattack and went down but was able to be more clinical in their finishing and tie up the game with two late goals.

The Big Moment:  Argentina tied the game in the 79th minute with this Romina Núñez header. This keeps alive Argentina’s possibility to advance out of the group stage.

What it means: Argentina held the majority of the possession in the first half, but was unable to convert that possession into dangerous chances. Although there were some good crosses put in, they ended the half with only five shots, one post hit, and no shots on goal. In first half stoppage time Argentine defender Miriam Mayorga received a yellow for taking down Thembi Kgatlana, her second of the tournament, so she will miss the next match for Argentina.

For South Africa, the first half had some positives, with their goal, and how dangerous their forwards were on the counter attack. On the negative side, midfielder Refiloe Jane went off on a stretcher midway through the half, and Kholosa Biyana was awarded a yellow card for the second game in a row, meaning that she too will miss Banyana Banyana’s third group stage match.

The start of the second half had more of the same, Argentina struggled to get the ball on frame while holding possession. South Africa took advantage of Argentinian mistakes and was hard to defend on their fast-break counters. Thembi Kgatlana made it 2-0 when she scored in the 66th minute off a sloppy Argentina turnover in their own defensive third.

In the 72nd minute, Argentina was able to finally score, and then minutes later found the equalizer. The key for Argentina finding momentum in the second half really came down to the energy that the substitutes brought into the match. Considering both squads lost their opening World Cup match, the tie here means that it will be incredibly hard for either of them to get out of the group stage. But depending on the outcome of the other matches in Group G it is not impossible.

-Taylor Vincent

England 1, Denmark 0

The Big Story: England were able to walk away with three points against Denmark thanks to an early goal, but injury overshadowed the win.

The Big Moment: In the 34th minute, England and Barcelona midfielder Keira Walsh went down and immediately signaled over to the trainers the ‘I’m done’ gesture and would end up being stretchered off. Losing Walsh really took the wind out of the English sails for the remainder of the half, and in the final 10 minutes until the halftime whistle, England weren’t able to get another shot off. Walsh is a player that England truly has no close replacement for. One can only hope the injury isn’t as bad as it looked.

What it means: After the Lionesses had a bit of a lackluster start to the World Cup in their opener against Haiti — in which they scraped by with a 1–0 win off a PK retake — England came out against Denmark with a bit more energy. Head coach Sarina Wiegman only made two changes to the starting XI going into the match, Lauren James and Rachel Daly—as an outside back. 

Daly and James made an immediate impact when in the 6th minute, Daly was able to find James centrally. James dribbled through traffic and then found netting on a right-footed shot from outside the box past a diving Denmark goalkeeper. James put all three of her shots on target in the first half and accounted for all but one of England’s shots on frame. 

Denmark had some dangerous moments offensively in the first half, and nearly had an equalizer in the 23rd minute by Rikke Madsen, but the shot was wide. With the kind of possession numbers that England had and the strength of the Lioness backline, Denmark really needed to be a little more dangerous with the chances that they did have. Their one shot that was actually on target in the first half was directly at England goalkeeper Mary Earps. 

After taking halftime as a time to do a mental reset, England still never really got back into the match after the Walsh injury, and it’s understandable considering what an important role she plays for the Lionesses. England didn’t have a single shot on target in the second half. Lucky for England, although Denmark had some chances in the second half, they just were not challenging Earps with the exception of a single shot that hit the post from Amalie Vangsgaard.

– Taylor Vincent

China 1, Haiti 0

The Big Story: A penalty was the ultimate decider as China edged out Haiti, 1-0, and avoided a historic upset and elimination.

The Big Moment: In the 74th minute, Wang Shuang steps up to the spot and converts a penalty to put China up for one. This was a major development for a Chinese team that had gone down to 10 players in the 29th minute after a bad tackle and, as a result, let Haiti play themselves into the game in the second half. 

What it means: China was in control for much of the first half but were dealt a huge blow when Zhang Rui got a red card in the 29th minute after a bad tackle on Sherly Jeudy. Losing their No. 6 left China struggling to build out and led to some initial disconnect in the middle, but they were able to keep possession and ultimately pull out the win. They were lucky to get a penalty or this game was likely headed to a 0-0 draw. 

As the 14th ranked team in the world, not scoring a goal in the run of play against the 55th ranked team isn’t a resounding victory. Even so, holding off Haiti for more than 70 minutes while down to 10 players is a huge accomplishment and might give them momentum as they go up against England next. Still, they’ll have their work cut out for them against the Lionesses — especially when missing Zhang due to the red. 

Although Haiti did become more dangerous after the red card and even more so after Melchi Dumornay was subbed on in the second half, they just couldn’t find the back of the net. Nerilia Mondesir had a goal called offsides and Dumornay forced an excellent save from Zhu Yu, but those were their best chances. Ultimately, Haiti got in their own way more than China threatened them. Persistent offsides calls hurt their momentum and the penalty was ultimately the nail in the coffin. To come so close to upsetting a top 20 team might offer some comfort, but it’ll certainly be of the cold variety.

Bekki Morgan

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