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Courage at the World Cup: Debinha and the USWNT make the knock out rounds, Erceg heads home

It was a happy end of the group stages for Brazil and USA but New Zealand could not find the goal to take them through the Round of 16.

Soccer: Womens World Cup-USA at Sweden Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

The final group matches were played out over the course of the week as teams looked to secure their places in the Round of 16 at the Women’s World Cup. Debinha and Brazil did just enough against Italy to qualify as the third team from Group C while the USWNT finished top of Group F after a strong showing against Sweden.

Unfortunately for Abby Erceg, New Zealand’s World Cup journey came to an end as they lost to Cameroon and thus, did not qualify for the knock out stages of the tournament.

Italy 0 - 1 Brazil

Brazil had to fight to get the win against Italy but a Marta penalty in the first half proved to be enough for the Brazilians. Debinha once again played the full 90 minutes and had fortune been on her side a little more, could have gotten on the scoresheet herself. Debinha has yet to hit the heights she played at with the North Carolina Courage but it feels like once one goal goes in for her, she’ll become a key part of Brazil’s attack.

Brazil will now face the hosts France on Sunday afternoon. They will need to be at their very best against what will be a determined French side and a vociferous home support. If Debinha finds her club form during this game, Brazil may cause an upset that many have predicted will not happen.

Cameroon 2 - 1 New Zealand

Abby Erceg once again featured for her country for the entire match but unfortunately could not help her team advance to the Round of 16. All the drama in this match happened in the second half as Cameroon took the lead in the 57th minute only for New Zealand to get an equalizer in the 80th minute. Erceg remained a steady presence for New Zealand during this match but lost her marker in the 57th minute which led to Cameroon’s first goal.

Erceg could do nothing when Cameroon popped up deep into stoppage time with the winner and the defender will now have to watch the rest of the World Cup from home.

Sweden 0 - 2 USA

The USWNT finished on top of Group F with ease as both Abby Dahlkemper and Crystal Dunn kept the Swedish attack quiet for most of the match. Samantha Mewis also featured for the US and had a hand in the opening goal of the game. Sweden may have rested some starters but they still had some dangerous forwards in their lineup that looked to test Dahlkemper and Dunn. The two Courage players dealt with most of the threats towards the US goal and when they were beaten, they managed to recover quickly enough to snuff out the attack. Mewis was a key player for the US and completely controlled the midfield throughout. Mewis is having a breakout tournament and it will be very difficult for Jill Ellis to drop her now considering her form.

The USWNT will now face Spain on Monday afternoon in the Round of 16. If everything goes according to plan, Dahlkemper, Dunn and Mewis will face either Courage teammate Debinha and Brazil, or France in the quarter finals.

Note: Jessica McDonald remained on the substitutes’ bench for the USA.