The Netherlands and Canada ensured they would finish in the top two in Group E of the women’s World Cup with victories, thus ensuring their qualification. On Sunday the United States and Sweden can join them if they win in Group F.
In Valenciennes on Saturday, Vivianne Miedema became the all-time Dutch women’s record goal-scorer with a brace as the Netherlands saw off a spirited Cameroon 3-1 to secure a place in the last 16.
Miedema’s goals came either side of a close-range Dominique Bloodworth strike for the European champions in Valenciennes, with Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene netting for Cameroon.
Canada then laid siege to the New Zealand goal with 22 total strikes in Grenoble, 11 of them on target and scored with goals from Jessie Fleming after 48 minutes and Nichelle Prince 30 minutes later.
Miedema’s double means the 22-year-old forward already has 60 international goals, making her the all-time top scorer for the Netherlands women’s side.
“I am 22 years old and I hope I have a nice career in front of me. I have no idea where this will end, but as long as I continue playing at his level I hope to keep adding more goals,” said the Arsenal star.
It was a frustrating Saturday for another goal scorer who has been around far longer than Miedema and scored three times as many goals.
Christine Sinclair, the 36-year-old Canadian striker, who is chasing retired American Abby Wambach’s record of 184 international goals, stayed on 181 after hitting the woodwork twice with headers.
The second, a powerful, downward header hit the post before rebounding to Prince to score Canada’s second.
That goal meant Canada had scored two goals in a game at a World Cup for the first time since a 2-2 draw with Australia in 2007, a run of nine matches.
“We reached another level today,” said Canadian coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller.
The Netherlands and Canada have both won two out of two in Group E and cemented their places in the knockout rounds. They meet in Reims next week top decide who will win the group.
“We expect a step up against the Dutch and we’ll need to look closely and see where we can hurt them,” said Heiner-Moller.
On Sunday, the United States play Chile in Paris still dealing with criticism for their devastating opening display against Thailand.
The US won 13-0, but their exuberant goal celebrations drew widespread criticism, with former Canada international Kaylyn Kyle labelling them “disgraceful” in her role as a television analyst.
“Goals are hard to come by in our sport and I think the meaning behind those goals, the people behind those goals, you have got to celebrate that,” Jill Ellis, the US coach said on Saturday.
Another big victory could be in the offing against a Chile side ranked 39th in the world, five places below Thailand.
Chile lost their opening game, 2-0, to Sweden.
Ellis dismissed suggestions she might encourage her players to go easy in an attempt to avoid finishing top of their section, thereby delaying a possible encounter with hosts France.
“I struggle to tell my players not to tackle each other in training a day before a game,” she said.
Victory would mean the USA are qualified before meeting Sweden, their conquerors at the Rio Olympics, in the last match in the group.
Sweden meet the Thais in the afternoon in Nice.