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This World Cup is on a (forward) roll

Thrilling opening fortnight comes to an end as Arsenal ace becomes her country’s top scorer

20 June, 2019 — By Catherine Etoe in France

Japan fans at the World Cup ahead of their country’s clash with England in the final group game

SO there we have it, the first two weeks of Women’s World Cup football is drawing to a close and already so much has happened.

Minnows Thailand have become everyone’s favourite underdogs after enduring a record 13-0 pummelling from reigning champions the USA and then tearfully bouncing back with a redemptive goal in a 5-1 thrashing by Sweden.

The debate over the use of smaller goals for the women’s game rages on, kick-started this time by Camden’s own Emma Hayes – the Chelsea Women’s manager saying that it’s an area that should be examined. It’s a discussion eclipsed only by VAR decisions that have had fans and players up in arms.

In the meantime, Arsenal’s own Vivianne Miedema has hit the heights as Netherlands’ top scorer aged just 22, although her celebration at hitting that historic mark reveals she still has work to do on her forward rolls.

Brazil legend Marta barely smudged her lipstick as she walloped home a whopping and unprecedented 17th World Cup goal, aged 33.

Yep, this eighth Women’s World Cup is shaping up to be a lively affair indeed, but it will really take hold in Scotland’s consciousness if their players can beat Argentina at the Parc des Princes – a match that was kicking off as we went to press last night (Wednesday).

Might Erin Cuthbert tread in the footsteps of James McFadden and score a worldie just as he did in the same stadium against France in Euro qualifying back in 2007?

“I wish it was that easy,” said Chelsea striker Cuthbert when asked the question ahead of the must-win tie that could see Scotland through to the knockout stages if they win big.

Phil Neville and England are already through. And a win against Japan last night – who knocked them out in the semi-finals four years ago – would mean they top the group.

Who knows whether Neville’s old boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been in touch, but he has given Scotland head coach Shelley Kerr a call. Not to give her the hairdryer treatment for losing the opening two matches, they were, after all, to higher ranked sides. Rather, to congratulate his fellow countrywomen on their performances.

“He was very complimentary about the team, their determination, stamina, the togetherness to finish so strongly in both games, he’s watched both of them,” revealed Kerr.

“It’s brilliant for myself as a manager for him to contact me and also for the players for him to pass on his best wishes. He’s going to be tuning into the game so it’s brilliant, a great bit of support from an absolute legend.”

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