Match of the tournament

Germany v Colombia was a case of European giant v South American newcomer to the world stage. We were blessed with the magic feet and finish of Linda Caicedo and Manuela Vanegas’s header was the precursor to Germany’s dramatic exit from the tournament. Anita Asante

Colombia shocking Germany in the group stage made people take notice. Karen Carney

This sounds a bit perverse now but I loved watching Japan’s dismantling of Spain in a match we thought would be so close. To win a game 4-0 with just 24% possession is impressive and each goal was a brilliant finish. Faye Carruthers

This is so hard to pick. France’s 2-1 win against Brazil was probably the best to cover live. The noise in the stadium in Brisbane was spine-tingling while the match itself was end-to-end and balanced on a knife-edge to the very end. Sophie Downey

Germany 1-2 Colombia. Germany arrived ranked second in the world, hammered Morocco 6-0 in their opening match, then had to listen to 40,000 fans cheer on their opponents as Caicedo scored one of the goals of the tournament and Vanegas pinched the three points deep into a breathless stoppage time. Jonathan Howcroft

Sweden v USA. Yes, it was a goalless draw. Yes, it was scrappy and at times desperate. But the drama! The significance! The shock! The sort of game that defies belief and defines eras. Jonathan Liew

I’ll cheat and pick two: USA v Sweden and Australia v France. Two all-time classic penalty shootouts. Tournament football at its thrilling best. Kieran Pender

Australia players begin the celebrations after the shootout win against France

Australia players begin the celebrations after the shootout win against France. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Australia v France. An epic match and an epic penalty shootout – it showcased the depth of character and will to win of the Matildas. Joey Peters

It has to be Germany v Colombia. The rollercoaster of emotions the game took fans on was incredible. The shock of Colombia going ahead subsided slightly after Alexandra Popp’s penalty. But when Vanegas headed the winner in the last minute and the team and fans celebrated, it stunned the rest of the tournament into silence. A huge moment and one that no one will forget. Sarah Rendell

Germany v Colombia. Not merely a great match and an enormous surprise but a changing of the guard, a shifting of tectonic plates. No one expected Germany to bow out so soon or Caicedo to be quite so good but Colombia now have a professional women’s domestic league and it showed. Louise Taylor

England v Australia. OK, there were matches with far more jeopardy but this was the semi-final everyone had hoped for once the groups were decided and it delivered an incredible atmosphere courtesy of a fully invested home public. Suzanne Wrack

Player of the tournament

For me as a former England centre-back Alex Greenwood has had an exceptional tournament. She exudes class; her positioning, progressive passing quality, composure and ability to turn defence to attack is world class. AA

Aitana Bonmatí was the best of the lot, while Salma Paralluelo was my young player of the tournament and Mary Earps the standout goalkeeper. KC

I don’t think I’ll be the only one saying this, but Bonmatí stepped out of the shadow of Alexia Putellas and showed why she should win the Ballon d’Or this year. FC

Bonmatí, Spain’s magician in the middle. The deserved winner of the Fifa Golden Ball award directed the Spanish midfield and was integral to them lifting the trophy. SD

Lauren Hemp: power, pace, industry, and an unbreakable will to win. JH

Teresa Abelleira, the player who made Spain work. Protected the defence and allowed the artists to create. Take her out of this team and Spain are nowhere. JL

Paralluelo has made such a difference for Spain. A breakout tournament for the young star with an exciting future ahead. KP

Mackenzie Arnold: you shall not pass! JP

A lot of focus will be on the goalscorers but, for me, Greenwood was the most solid and consistent player of the tournament. Her set-piece deliveries have been pinpoint and her defending has been the most impressive of anyone in the backline. Her balls forward also unlocked another element of England’s attack. Another great performance in the final, too. SR

Alex Greenwood

The 19-year-old Paralluelo played a very big part in Spain’s triumph. Her quick, clever feet and devastating change of pace illuminated the tournament. The former star 400m runner put some of the world’s finest defenders to the sword. LT

Bonmatí is probably the best player in the world right now, she is majestic. But a special mention has to go to Greenwood, who topped passing stats and, had Leah Williamson been fit, might not have played. SW

Goal of the tournament

I could have picked any one of Lauren James’s goals against China but the one I’ve gone for is Marta Cox’s stunner against France from 30 yards out. The perfect statement for the newcomers. AA

Brazil’s team goal against Panama was a joy to behold. KC

Cox for Panama against France. Not just a stunning free-kick from 30 yards out, but scoring her country’s first ever goal at a World Cup made it even more special. FC

Linda Caicedo’s wonderful curling effort to take the lead against Germany. It was a strike to remember. SD

The goal that fired Banyana Banyana into the knockouts (sending Italy home in the process) was finished by Thembi Kgatlana, but it was a Hildah Magaia masterpiece. After helping the ball forward on the halfway line Magaia busts a gut to steal between three Italian defenders and accept Jermaine Seoposenwe’s hopeful pass infield. Her touch takes her into the penalty area where she shapes to shoot, giving Francesca Durante the eyes, only to lay a perfectly weighted no-look pass for Kgatlana to sidefoot home. It was the 92nd minute. JH

This is not a technical competition. I’m not interested in measuring in angles, difficulty levels or distances. Sometimes you just have to judge a goal by the noise it makes, by the size of the hole it cuts in the space-joy fabric. Sam Kerr against England. JL

South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana scores past Francesca Durante to send Italy out

South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana scores past Francesca Durante to send Italy out. Photograph: Amanda Perobelli/Reuters

Excuse the parochialism, but Sam Kerr’s rocket against England in the semi-final. After a tournament of calf-watch for Kerr, in one daring run and finish the Matildas captain showed why she is considered the best striker in the world. For eight minutes it breathed hope into Australia’s comeback. It was not to be, but an entire nation will always remember that goal. KP

Steph Catley’s penalty against Ireland. A huge moment to step up as captain with the sweetest of finishes. It was a crucial goal to release the pressure and get the Matildas off the mark. JP

While Kerr’s goal in the semi-final against England ran it close, Cox’s free-kick for Panama is the goal of the tournament for me. The precision of the strike, the celebrations afterwards and the fact it was the country’s first World Cup goal seals it. An audacious goal from one of the tournament’s breakout stars. SR

Olga Carmona’s World Cup winner was pretty special but Kerr’s equaliser for Australia in the semi-final against England just shades it. Kerr and her side were deservedly beaten but it was a fabulous goal from a world-class striker who, having overcome a calf injury, at least left her mark on her home tournament. LT

Kerr’s strike against England. It was stunning in itself but taking place in such a pressurised environment and with the talismanic captain making her first start means it will go down in World Cup history. SW

Personal highlight

The rise of Caf and Conmebol nations! It is no surprise to me the talent that exists in Africa and South America but the expansion of the tournament has shed greater light on how the gap between tournament regulars and newcomers is being bridged. AA

The conversations that are now happening around women’s football, not just in England but everyone at the World Cup as a whole. Players across the nations are making the world discuss the game. KC

Bunny Shaw’s embrace of Marta after the Brazilians were knocked out at the group stage. Huge respect for a footballing legend. FC

It is tricky to just pick one from an incredible month. The whole experience in Australia is almost impossible to put into words. Watching England in a World Cup final is right up there but the one I will remember is the semi-final against Australia. The atmosphere and the game will stick with me for a long time. SD

Helming the minute-by-minute report for Australia v France and contributing to one of those moments. JH

Wellington. Both hosts have been exemplary, but the ambience and beauty of New Zealand’s capital was something else. Really throws you through a loop. JL

As a football fan since birth in a nation which has a complex relationship with the sport, seeing Australia embrace the tournament and the Matildas in an unprecedented way was the undoubtable highlight. From an all-time record television audience for the semi-final to consistently sold-out stadiums, no one will ever again say that Australia is not a football nation. KP

Khadija Shaw hugs Marta after Brazil’s exit

Khadija Shaw hugs Marta after Brazil’s exit. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Fifa/Getty Images

Australia v England. Our first but not last semi-final against a class outfit, we came so close to a World Cup final, with our icon Sam Kerr scoring that brilliant goal to get us back in the game. Experiencing the heights of ecstasy in that moment with the whole nation, I’ll never forget it. JP

Covering the entire tournament has been incredible but being able to report on England in a World Cup final is a career moment I never thought I would have. It was such a privilege to be at the game and it’s a memory that will stay with me. SR

The rise of, among others, Nigeria. Just how imagine how good they are going to be when they are properly resourced. England will know they were extremely lucky to get past them on penalties. LT

Meeting Brandi Chastain, Billie Jean King and interviewing Malala Yousafzai in one day? Mind-blowing. SW

From bonus negotiations to alleged accusations of sexual harassment, this World Cup has put a spotlight on the issues women footballers are still having to face. But enough is enough. The players have walked the walk on the pitch – now it’s time for the federations to treat them with the respect and equality they fully deserve. AA

We have to keep pushing the agenda, there is still a lot more to do. At the top level it is going really well. We need to be pushing elsewhere, such as facilities and academies. Even at the World Cup we have had some problems we need to address and build a solid platform to succeed. KC

The gap is closing. More investment and support globally. FC

Anything is possible. It’s shown it can get spectators into stadiums and break viewing figures across the world. But there is still work to do and federations everywhere have to step up to the plate to support and invest in their stars. This isn’t a time to rest on laurels. SD

Growth is now a given – the market will see to that – the key question is how. As this World Cup has demonstrated, women’s football has a character, community, and values that warrant not only protecting but nurturing, amid the dash for cash. JH

More of the same. Increased revenues, bigger crowds, the occasional scandal and the slow migration of gravity and talent from the United States to Europe. JL

A rapid upwards trajectory. It would be naive to think that there will not be setbacks and challenges ahead as Australia, and women’s football globally, seek to capitalise on this. But this fantastic month will surely supercharge the growth of the game. KP

This tournament has inspired women and girls to march forward in newfound strength and confidence. Football will continue to be the main outlet we see this tangibly, with more female participants flocking to the game. We now need more women to lead the game at the grassroots level and take the game forward with joy. JP

Investment needs to be put into every team, nationally and domestically. We have seen the effect investment has had on teams such as England and USA and every country deserves the same. Footballers should be able to solely concentrate on their craft, not having to fight for equal rights like Jamaica having to fundraise to travel to the tournament or Nigeria still being in a pay dispute with their federation. SR

On the pitch a growing equality between Europe’s and North America’s finest – plus Japan – and the best of Africa and South America. Off it, increasing, and overdue, arguments about equal pay and facilities with equivalent men’s teams. Considerable angst in the United States over their stumble from the pinnacle. Hervé Renard to finally turn France into tournament winners. LT

Investment and growth like never before, but also hopefully a reckoning on what constitutes a safe, supportive and healthy environment for players in every country. SW