10 Greatest Women's World Cup Games in history
As the 2023 Women's World Cup unfolds, let's take a look back at some of the best games in the history of the competition so far. Ranking the 10 best women’s world cup games of all time.
The Women’s World Cup 2023 is here, so we’re taking a look back at some of the greatest games in the tournament's history and reliving the very best moments.
As we focus in on the tournament, we have women’s World Cup odds for you and a list of the 10 Best FIFA Women’s World Cup Group Stage Games to Watch as the tournament begins to unfold.
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Ranking the 10 Greatest Soccer Games in Women’s World Cup History
- 2007 Women’s World Cup Quarter Final: Brazil vs Australia
Final Score: 3-2 Brazil
In 2007, Brazil had become one of the most talented women’s soccer teams around. With Marta in her prime and the legendary Formiga controlling the midfield, many believed this might be the year for the South American side.
Having dominated the group stage with three wins, scoring ten goals and conceding none, they faced Australia in the Quarter Finals.
It was Brazil who were the favorites, and they jumped to an early 2-0 lead with a Formiga goal inside five minutes and a Marta penalty. The game was going as expected, but Australia fought back, grabbing a goal before half time to make it 2-1.
In the second half they leveled the game, and Brazilian fans held their breath. Fortunately, Cristiane played the hero, scoring what would be the winning goal for Brazil in the 75th minute.
- 2019 Women’s World Cup Group Stage: USA vs Thailand
Final Score: 13-0
The biggest win in women’s World Cup history belongs to the USA, who crushed Thailand 13-0 in the opening game of their 2019 campaign.
The USWNT entered the tournament as the defending champions and the favorites to run it back and win the title once again. Their opening game against Thailand was an opportunity to make a statement, and that's exactly what they did.
In just 12 minutes, Alex Morgan broke the deadlock, igniting a goal spree for the USA. With Morgan scoring five, Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle, and Carli Lloyd adding two each, and Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, and Mallory Pugh also scoring, the USWNT set their sights on becoming unstoppable.
That game marked the beginning of their best tournament yet, leading them all the way to the final and securing their fourth World Cup title.
- 1999 Women’s World Cup Final: USA vs China
Final Score: 0-0 (USA won 5-4 on penalties)
The 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup final is one of the most important women’s soccer games of all time. It makes the top ten not because of a high scoring affair, but because of how intense and inspirational the game turned out to be.
Hosted in the US, the third women's World Cup was a momentous occasion for the USWNT, aiming to secure victory on home soil at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. In a tense final against China, Kristine Lilly's crucial goal-line clearance kept the game level.
The thrilling match ultimately led to a penalty shootout, where Brianna Scurry's save proved pivotal. Brandi Chastain's winning penalty, followed by her iconic celebration, etched this game as one of the most unforgettable moments in U.S. women's soccer history.
The aftermath was incredible, sparking new interest in the women’s game around the U.S., which is why the 1999 final became so important to women’s soccer in America.
- 1999 Women’s World Cup Group Stage: Brazil vs Germany
Final Score: 3-3
The 1999 World Cup Group Stages featured a captivating draw with the emerging Brazil team and the formidable European giants of Germany placed in the same group.
Brazil won their first two games, while Germany dropped points in the opening game by tying 1-1 with Italy.
The third and final group stage game saw the two sides face one another. The winner of this match would claim the top spot in the group. It turned out to be a back-and-forth match, and one of the best women’s World Cup games ever.
Germany took the lead through the legendary Birgit Prinz in the 8th minute, but Brazil fought back and took the lead themselves with goals in the 15th and 20th minute of the game. Germany went from a winning position to very quickly being behind, but the pendulum swung back their way when Bettina Wiegmann converted a penalty in the 46th minute.
Tied at 2-2 it was Germany who broke the deadlock once more, scoring in the 58th minute through Samantha Jones. They held on for almost the entire second half, and it looked like they were going to win the group. That was until Brazilian midfielder Maycon equalized in the 94th minute, stealing the win from Germany and first place in the group.
- 2003 Women’s World Cup Final: Germany vs Sweden
Final Score: 2-1 Germany (Golden Goal)
The Golden Goal rule used to decide many soccer games in extra time before being removed from the rulebook in 2004. However, one of the most memorable Golden Goal decisions came in the 2003 Women’s World Cup final before it disappeared.
Germany were facing Sweden in the final, a matchup between two of Europe’s finest soccer nations. Both were yet to win the women’s World Cup, and one would emerge victorious in 2003.
The game was deadlocked at 1-1 at full time, and the prospect of a Golden Goal to decide it was imminent. That possibility turned into reality when Nia Kunzer rose above everyone else and delivered a powerful header into the back of the Sweden net from a deep free kick for Germany.
The game was over, Germany were world champions, and Sweden went home devastated. It marked the final Golden Goal decision in women’s World Cup history, and one of the most stunning women’s World Cup finals of all time.
- 2011 Women’s World Cup Final: Japan vs USA
Final Score: 2-2 (Japan won 3-1 on penalties)
Japan's run to the 2011 women’s World Cup final was tremendous. They took on Germany, the current defending champions, and beat them in extra time to advance to the semi final where they would meet Sweden.
In a thrilling match, Japan caught Sweden off guard and secured their spot in the final with a 3-1 victory, setting them up as underdogs against the dominant USWNT. Despite the USWNT twice taking the lead in one of the best women's soccer games ever, Japan displayed incredible resilience and fought back from behind in the World Cup final.
With heroic goals from Aya Miyama and Homare Sawa, they forced extra time and eventually triumphed in a penalty shootout, securing a momentous achievement for Japanese soccer history.
- 2015 Women’s World Cup Final: USA vs Japan
Final Score: 5-2 USA
As it turned out, the USA had a chance at redemption in 2015 when they met the defending champions Japan in the final for the second competition in a row.
In their prime, the Japanese women's national soccer team returned to the final with hopes of defending their title as champions. However, the USA proved relentless, dominating Japan from the opening minute with an overwhelming performance.
Within 15 minutes of play the USWNT led 4-0 in one of their best women’s world cup games ever. Carli Lloyd had scored a hattrick and atoned for her missed penalty in the 2011 final. The USA went on to win 5-2 and reclaim their crown as the champions of the world.
- 2019 Women’s World Cup Group Stage: Scotland vs Argentina
Final Score: 3-3
Argentina’s comeback in the final game of the 2019 World Cup group stage is technically the greatest comeback of all time. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you check out the women’s World Cup highlights for this one.
Scotland had surged to a 3-0 lead, with a 69th minute goal from Erin Cuthbert all but closing the door on Argentina at the Parc des Princes in Paris. That was until Argentina fired themselves back into the game, having been almost irrelevant up until this point.
They scored what would have been deemed as a mere consolation in the 74th minute, but five minutes later they managed a second, and suddenly the game was up for grabs.
Scotland held on despite the swing in momentum, but in the 94th minute a VAR decision lead to a penalty for Argentina, and a stunning moment in the 2019 World Cup tournament.
Flor Bonsegundo stepped up, but had her penalty saved by the Scottish goalkeeper. Their celebrations were short lived however, with VAR then deciding that the keeper had jumped off her line too early. The penalty was retaken, and this time Bonsegundo tucked it away, leveling the game and completing the comeback.
- 1999 Women’s World Cup Quarter Final: Brazil vs Nigeria
Final Score: 4-3 Brazil (Golden Goal)
This 1999 knockout game was almost the greatest comeback the women’s game has ever seen.
Brazil surged out in front, taking a 3-0 lead through a double from Cidinha and a goal from Nene inside the first half. Nigeria looked down and out, but what followed was a miraculous second half.
They clawed back into the game, getting it back to 3-2 with five minutes of normal time to play, and it was then that Nkechi Egbe equalized to tie the game at 3-3 and eventually force extra time.
At the time, the Golden Goal rule still applied, and it was anybody's game before penalties potentially came into play.
In a bid to dash the hopes of the Nigerian side, Brazilian midfielder Sissi took charge and unleashed a thunderous free kick from the left side, burying it into the back of the net and sealing the game with a single magnificent strike.
- 2011 Women’s World Cup Quarter Final: USA vs Brazil
Final Score: 2-2 (USA won on penalties)
This game had it all. Two of the strongest FIFA Women’s World Cup teams at the time found themselves facing off in a must-watch Quarter Final, and it didn’t disappoint.
The USA took the lead inside two minutes, but Brazilian icon Marta squared the game with a converted penalty in the second half. When extra time came it was Marta again who delivered for her country, giving Brazil the lead in the 92nd minute.
The US seemed to be out of it, and the clock had ticked over 120 minutes played. It was now desperation time, and the USWNT had one last roll of the dice to even the scores.
Launching the ball to the left, Megan Rapinoe delivered a powerful and precise cross deep into the box, aiming for Abby Wambach. With the Brazilian keeper unable to reach it, Wambach skillfully headed it into the net, rescuing the team from elimination and leveling the score at 2-2, leading to a dramatic penalty shootout.
The USWNT then converted five straight penalties to knock Brazil out and leave them wondering what exactly had happened in a miraculous turnaround.
Parameters for Rankings
These all-time great Women’s World Cup games have been ranked based on the wow factor of the game itself, as well as taking into consideration the stakes of the game, the round of the competition in which it was played and any other factors.
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