The group stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France drew to a close yesterday, and we can now look forward to the knockout round of 16, which kicks off this weekend.

The standout player of round three was Sam Kerr, who’s four goals against Jamaica helped ensure Australia’s qualification for the last 16 and drew her level with the USA’s Alex Morgan at the top of the scoring charts.

Kerr is joined in GoalPoint’s team of the round by Chinese Goalkeeper, Peng Shimeng who made nine saves to shut out Spain and France’s Wendie Renard’s whose retaken penalty was enough to beat Nigeria.

For Scotland, round three brought drama and heartbreak as they lost a three-nil lead to Argentina and with it their hopes of progressing to the next round. The game was also notable for further controversy related to VAR and the new rulings around the positioning of goalkeepers at penalties (new rules introduced on 1st June states “the goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot on/in line with the goal line when the kick is taken and cannot stand behind the line”). First VAR was used to award a penalty to Argentina in the dying minutes of the match and then again to order a retake after Argentina’s first effort was saved, with the Scotland goalkeeper adjudged to have been off her line. With new rules being considered and the use of the technology still in its infancy across the world, how and when to use VAR is causing huge debate and certainly has a had a big impact on the tournament so far; it will be interesting to see how it affects the knockout stages and how teams adapt to the new regulations.

If we look back at the group stages as a whole, they were a record breaking affair, with Carli Lloyd being the first player to score in six consecutive matches and Marta becoming the top scorer in the history of FIFA World Cups – men & women’s – netting her 17th World Cup goal from the spot against Italy. And, of course, there was the USA’s record 13-0 score line again against Thailand where Alex Morgan starred with five goals. Morgan continued to shine throughout the USA’s group stage matches and at this point in the competition she has the amazing record of contributing to a goal – either via scoring or producing an assist – every 16 minutes she has been on the pitch!

With all the tournament’s “big guns” getting through to the round of 16, and fixtures such as France v Brazil and Netherlands v Japan to look forward to, the weekend is sure to produce more action, excitement and talking points. Keep an eye out for all the key match stats and analysis on social media brought to you by GoalPoint, in association with Soccerex.

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