USA were able to hold off a spirited Australian side to win 3-1 in front of a largely American audience at the Winnipeg Stadium, giving Jill Ellis’s squad a strong start to their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ campaign.
Hope Solo was tested early from Emily van Egmond’s drive, but the USA goalkeeper managed to tip the ball on to the crossbar. Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring following a great bit of skill, controlling the loose ball then spinning away to create enough space for a long-range strike, which deflected off Laura Alleway enough to wrong-foot goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri.
Australia came close again, with Solo denying Samantha Kerr’s well-hit volley from only a few yards. The Matildas then found their equaliser after a good spell of possession and build-up in the Americans’ final third. Michelle Heyman unselfishly passed to captain Lisa De Vanna, who made no mistake, finishing into the side netting.
USA captain Abby Wambach, who was largely uninvolved for most of the game, should have done better with an open header off of Rapinoe’s free-kick late in the first half, but the No20 fired wide.
Aya Miyama scored on a penalty kick in the 29th minute as defending Women's World Cup champion Japan opened with a 1-0 win over newcomer Switzerland in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday night. Miyama's penalty, on a low shot to the left side of the goal, came after Swiss goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann was given a yellow card following a collision with Japan's Kozue Ando inside the box. Yuki Ogimi set up the run by Ando with a chip over the Switzerland defense.
Ramona Bachmann, who had several quality runs on goal in the second half for Switzerland, had an open shot in the box in the final minute of stoppage time -- pushing the ball just over the goal. Japan plays Cameroon on Friday, while Switzerland faces Ecuador.
Japan's Kozue Ando, left, and Switzerland goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann fall to the ground after colliding during first half FIFA Women's World Cup soccer action in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday June 8, 2015. (Darryl Dyck(/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Japan's Aya Miyama (8) celebrates her penalty kick goal against Switzerland during first half FIFA Women's World Cup soccer action in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday June 8, 2015. (Darryl Dyck(/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Wang Lisi's late winner got China's Women's World Cup campaign back on track as Germany were held 1-1 by Norway and Canada played a goalless draw against New Zealand. China's Group A tie in Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium looked to be heading for frustration before Wang broke through to roll the ball past Sari Van Veenendaal in the Dutch goal one minute into extra time.
It gave the 'Steel Roses' a vital three points after losing their opening match to Canada, who had to settle for a goalless draw against New Zealand. Canada remain top of Group A with four points from two games, ahead of China and the Netherlands, who have three. New Zealand are bottom of the group with one point.
Friday sees the representatives of Groups C and D reclaim the stage, with a high-stakes encounter between the United States and Sweden sitting as the pick of the bunch.Following Germany's 1-1 draw against Norway on Thursday evening, all tournament hopefuls will have been handed a substantial boost in their bid to challenge for the top places.
At 5 feet 2 inches, left back Meghan Klingenberg is the smallest player on the American women’s national team, but she made probably the biggest play on Friday night to preserve a 0-0 tie with Sweden in the World Cup. In the 77th minute, a looping shot from about 10 yards out by Caroline Seger of Sweden appeared that it would elude goalkeeper Hope Solo and provide the decisive goal in a taut, frantic match.
But Klingenberg stood on the goal line at the right post, jumped and headed the ball off the underside of the crossbar. The ball bounced downward, but did not cross the line, and the Americans remained atop their group with a win and a draw after two matches. “Brilliant,” Coach Jill Ellis said of Klingenberg. “Believe it or not, we’ve actually practiced that. All 5-foot-1 of her, you’ve got to work on that occasionally. I think it was obviously a huge, huge defensive play.”
The United States leads the so-called Group of Death. But the Americans will seek to play with urgency on Tuesday in an attempt to defeat Nigeria in Vancouver and win the group, thus avoiding a potential matchup with Brazil in the round of 16. A draw would also advance the Americans to the next round, though perhaps in a more precarious position.
Klingenberg’s clearance was perhaps the most dramatic, rescuing play made by an American since Kristine Lilly headed a shot off the goal line in overtime against China in the final of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, which was won by the United States on penalty kicks.
Good fortune has mostly eluded Sweden in this tournament. It held a 2-0 lead at halftime against Nigeria in its opener but had to settle for a 3-3 draw. And, after a corner kick Friday, Seger’s deft shot could not get past Klingenberg. For the first time in a Women’s World Cup, Hawk-Eye technology is being used to determine whether a ball crosses the goal line. Hedvig Lindahl, Sweden’s goalkeeper, who was alert and impenetrable, thought a replay might prove that Seger had indeed scored the winning goal.
England beat Mexico in their second match at the Women's World Cup to put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the last 16. Fran Kirby, the 21-year-old striker, scored midway through the second half in her first start at a major tournament. After losing their opening game against France, it was an important win for England.
England doubled the lead with Karen Carney's header and although there was a late scare when Fabiola Ibarra scored, Mark Sampson's side held on. The victory means England are now equal on points with France. A point in England's last game against Colombia should be enough to progress given that in four of the tournament's six groups, three teams will qualify for the second round.