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2023 Women's World Cup

The Big Story Day 15: Morocco and Colombia advance, Germany eliminated

James Whitehead / SPP

Day 15 of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup closed out the group stage with Morocco defeating Colombia to advance out of Group H in their World Cup debut. Germany and South Korea played to a 1-1 draw, resulting in a shocking early elimination for the German side.

Couldn’t watch and need to know what the big story is? This is what happened on the 15th day of the World Cup.

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Your bite-sized recap of Day 15 of the 2023 Women’s World Cup

South Korea 1, Germany 1

The Big Story: In yet another shocking group-stage elimination, Germany, the second-ranked FIFA Women’s National Team in the world, is going home. Although the Germans did not suffer a loss in Thursday night’s game against South Korea, the results of the simultaneous Morocco-Colombia match paved the way for the latter teams to advance. 

The Big Moment: In the 57th minute, German star striker Alexandra Popp sent the ball into the back of the net after receiving a sharp back-heel flick from teammate Lea Schuller. The goal was ultimately ruled offside; had it been fair, Germany would probably be on its way to the knockouts. 

What it means: Entering this match, South Korea basically had no path to the knockout round, but Germany was relatively confident it would advance, as long as a combination of anticipated results materialized. A win over South Korea would send the Germans into the knockout round, as would a draw with South Korea, or even a loss to South Korea, provided Colombia beat Morocco – the list of Group H possibilities went on, and they mostly leaned in Germany’s favor.

However, somehow, none of those outcomes materialized. Korea got on the board first with a sixth minute goal, but Germany equalized with a classic Alexandra Popp header in the 42nd. With that goal, Germany slid back into second place in the group, but moments later, in the simultaneous match, Morocco scored on Colombia, bumping the Germans back down to third during halftime. 

Germany brought its attacking moves to the second half, and Popp even found the back of the net in the 57th minute; however, the goal was called offside. The remaining stressful minutes of the match (far more than regulation – stoppage time expanded into the 106th minute), featured painfully close German attempts, vigorous South Korean defending, and, for the coaches and fans, concurrent checking of the score of the Morocco-Colombia match. If Germany couldn’t make their own way to the knockouts, perhaps a Colombian win or a draw could carve them a pathway. Ultimately, the precarious scores held, and Germany failed to reach the knockout stages of a Women’s World Cup for the first time ever. 

Thursday night had everything – the excitement and stress of simultaneous matches containing endless outcomes, never-ending stoppage time, the tremendous shock of a top team’s elimination, and the absolute devastation for said top team that its own game did not entirely determine its fate. A team that entered the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a solid chance to go all the way is already going home, and the ubiquitous thesis of the tournament continues to prove itself true – these matches are anyone’s to win. 

— Julie Schreiber

Morocco 1, Colombia 0

The Big Story: Colombia were always going through unless they lost by a large margin but Morocco defied the odds to qualify for the knockout stage in their first-ever Women’s World Cup. They needed a win and for Germany to do anything but win and they got that perfect storm of results.

The Big Moment: The goal that put Morocco through came at the tail end of first-half stoppage time when Daniela Arias clumsily shoved Ibtissam Jraidi to the ground in the 18-yard box. Though Ghizlane Chebbak, the Moroccon captain, had her ensuing penalty shot saved by Catalina Perez, her teammates were quickest to react and the ball was eventually put in the back of the net by Anissa Lahmari. Lahmari’s first international goal could not have come at a better time.

What it means: Morocco is the first Arab nation to ever qualify for and compete in a Women’s World Cup, and in their debut they are the lowest-ever ranked team to advance to the Round of 16 where they will take on France. And for the first time, three African nations are heading to the knockout stages. They didn’t hold much possession but they played smart, limiting Colombia’s chances to just three on target. Goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi made several key saves in the second half to deny the Colombians a goal that would’ve cost Morocco advancement.

Colombia are through to the knockout stages, which is incredibly exciting, but they will be disappointed entering on a loss after their standout comeback performance against the Germans. They created good chances and Linda Caicedo continued her terrific tournament performance; despite not scoring in this matchup, she continued to look dangerous. We know Colombia can find the back of the net against top teams and in their knockout match against Jamaica they will need to break down the staunch Jamaican defense to advance.

— Bella Munson

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