USA soccer players kicked off the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with a 3-0 win over Vietnam. Sophia Smith scored twice for the champions, who will meet the Netherlands in the group stage on Thursday.
The four-time world champions did not have much trouble against Vietnam, who made their World Cup debut in front of more than 40,000 fans in Auckland. Alex Morgan missed a penalty shortly before the break and many chances were left uncapped after the break. Only captain Lindsey Horan managed to score in the 77th minute: 3-0. Joining the USA after the break is Megan Rapinoe, with whom the team figure played her 200th international match.
Thursday’s match with Orange is a repeat of the World Cup final four years ago.
National coach Sarina Wegman had a very difficult start to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with footballers from England. The European champions, ranked 4th in the world rankings, beat Haiti 1-0 in Brisbane. The only goal also came from a penalty kick used by Georgia Stanway. Haiti, which made its World Cup debut, is No. 53 in the world.
England took the lead after half an hour when Stanaway scored the second goal from the penalty spot. Curly Theus stopped her first attempt, but the Haitian keeper went off line early on. Substitute Roslyn Eloissant had a chance to equalize with 10 minutes left, but goalkeeper Marie Erbes prevented the English ladies from defeating them with a superb save.
“It was a tough game,” said Wegman, who won the European title with Orange in 2017 and finished runner-up at the previous World Cup two years later. “We were fully prepared, but Haiti played very well. They play very unpredictable, very direct, and were very strong on the counter. I think the other nations in the group will have a hard time dealing with them. I’m just happy with the three points.”
In the other match in Group D, Denmark beat China 1-0 in Perth. And Amalie Vangsgaard decided the match with a goal in the last minute of official time. Vangsgaard headed in a corner kick by Pernell Harder.
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