And then there were 16, then down to 14.
Yesterday, the first two knockout round matches were played at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, with Germany making short work of Nigeria, 3-0, and Norway advancing past Australia in a penalty shootout.
Three Chelsea players took part in the latter, including center back pairing Maren Mjelde and Maria Thorisdottir, who were tasked with keeping the tournament’s leading goalscorer, Sam Kerr off the scoresheet. Mjelde and Thorisdottir, neither of whom normally play in central defense for Chelsea, have continued their stellar form however, and not only did they keep Kerr from adding to her five goals through the three group stage games, they limited her to just one shot on target (from five attempts). Solid.
Norway had taken the lead just past the half-hour mark, but did give up a late equalizer before winning it in the penalty shootout. Mjelde, as captain, went third and scored, as did new Chelsea signing Guro Reiten, who went second for the Norwegians. Kerr went first for the Aussies and ballooned her take over the bar, Baggio-style.
Norway will face the winner of England and Cameroon in Thursday’s quarterfinal.
Speaking of new signings, the 25-year-old Sam Kerr, one of the most biggest rising talents in the women’s game has been linked with a $1m move to Chelsea in the last couple days — welcome to women’s football, transfer rumors! — but Kerr has dismissed them as pure speculation (for now anyway).
“That’s just media speculating that popped up yesterday too. Everyone’s been speculating about Europe but I’m really happy in the US. I’m playing well there. I have a great club behind me and I love where I live. That’s just speculation.”
-Sam Kerr; source: Fox Sports Australia
Kerr apparently turned down a chance to join Chelsea or Barcelona last year in favor of another season in Australia’s W-League, which she led in scoring, as well as the USA’s NWSL, where she’s the all-time leading goalscorer (she splits time between the two teams thanks to their staggered seasons).