FIFA Women's World Cup: Jamaica, South Africa advance; Brazil, Italy go home

Jamaican players celebrate after the match. Photo: Reuters/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

A courageous Jamaica held Brazil to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday to reach the knockout phase for the first time in only their second Women's World Cup while condemning the South Americans to their earliest exit since 1995.

Needing a point to go through, the Reggae Girlz barely threatened to score but were tight in defence, repelling wave after wave of Brazilian attacks in a frenetic atmosphere at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

Brazil coach Pia Sundhage started Marta on the field for the first time in her sixth World Cup but the iconic forward bowed out in disappointment.

Her touch was missing early. She fired a shot into a defender in the fourth minute and then wasted another chance seven minutes later with a heavy touch, leaving an unmarked Ary Borges fuming at the far post.

Running towards goal, Borges finally had her chance when Luana found her with a cross but the playmaker steered her header well wide in the 24th minute.

Borges then set Tamires up with a delightful cross into the inside-left channel late in the half but she thumped a volley straight at goalkeeper Becky Spencer.

Jamaica rode their luck to half-time and Brazil's desperation grew after the break as their attacks came to nothing.

Jamaican hearts were in mouths in the 79th minute when defender Allyson Swaby nearly put the ball into her own net with a terrible attempted clearance that forced Spencer into a fine save at the far post.

Diani dazzles for France

Kadidiatou Diani netted a hat-trick, including two penalties, to lead France to a frenzied 6-3 victory over debutants Panama and into the last 16.

Les Bleues needed only a draw in the Group F finale against winless Panama. After conceding in the second minute, France dominated, with goals from Maelle Lakrar, Lea Le Garrec and Vicki Becho, despite playing without captain Wendie Renard and all-time leading scorer Eugenie Le Sommer.

Thembi Kgatlana scored a last-gasp winner to give South Africa their first ever Women's World Cup win with a 3-2 victory over Italy that sent them through to the last 16 of the tournament at the expense of their opponents.

Thembi Kgatlana
South Africa's Thembi Kgatlana scores their third goal. Photo: Reuters/Amanda Perobelli

Striker Kgatlana struck two minutes into stoppage time to send her team off to Sydney for a clash with the Netherlands on Sunday and broke the hearts of the Italians, who had only needed a draw to progress.

Italy had appeared to salvage the draw they needed when Arianna Caruso scored from a corner in the 74th minute but were left to rue what could have been after a series of late missed chances.

The Italians had opened the scoring when Karabo Dhlamini tripped Italy forward Chiara Beccari just inside the box in the 10th minute and Caruso converted the penalty with a confident shot into the bottom left corner of the net.

South Africa equalised in the 32nd minute through an own goal from Benedetta Orsi, who did not check where goalkeeper Francesca Durante was before making a back pass.  

Banyana Banyana went ahead for the first time in the 67th minute when Kgatlana's neat inside pass found Hildah Magaia free behind the defensive line and the forward swept it into the net.

Caruso answered seven minutes later from a corner when the ball caught her hip in a goalmouth scramble and cannoned into the bottom right corner of the net.

It looked as though Italy might hang on for the draw in a frantic finale but Magaia's pass found Kgatlana in the box and the striker smashed the ball into the net to secure second place in the group behind Sweden.

Swedish players celebrate scoring their first goal against Argentina. Photo: Reuters/David Rowland

A much-changed Sweden side reached the last 16 with a perfect record after Rebecka Blomqvist's second-half header and substitute Elin Rubensson's 90th-minute penalty helped them beat Argentina 2-0.

Blomqvist met Sofia Jakobsson's cross with a fantastic header in the 66th minute, while Rubensson sealed the win with a superbly taken spot kick.

Argentina, who lost midfielder Florencia Bonsegundo to injury minutes before the break, needed a victory to stand any chance of going through but never really troubled the Swedish defence or goalkeeper Jennifer Falk.

They remain without a win in their four World Cup appearances and finished bottom of the group.

Sweden will next face holders United States in a blockbuster clash in Melbourne on Sunday - a rematch of the Olympic quarterfinals in 2021 when the Europeans won 3-0 en route to the final.

Having already secured qualification after winning their first two games, Sweden only needed a point to top the group and coach Peter Gerhardsson made nine changes to the side that thrashed Italy 5-0.

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