LE HAVRE – The United States made it a perfect three wins out of three at the Women’s World Cup on Thursday by beating Sweden 2-0 to top Group F, as Chile missed a late penalty to lose out on the knockout stages at the death.
The Americans will continue their bid to defend their world title against Spain in Reims on Monday after a win that saw them make it 18 goals for the tournament and break the 24-year-old record for the number of goals scored in the group stage held by Norway.
Lindsey Horan opened the scoring when she tapped home Samantha Mewis’ flick with two minutes on the clock, and Tobin Heath made sure of the points by firing past Hedvig Lindahl four minutes after the break.
Heath’s strike somehow survived a VAR check from referee Anastasia Pustovoytova despite substitute Carli Lloyd looking to be offside in the build-up.
Sweden started with a team with seven changes from the side that beat Thailand 5-1 last time out and four players making their World Cup debut, and offered very little attacking threat.
However their defeat means that they have Canada next in Paris on Monday and are in an easier side of the knockout draw from the States, who have hosts France, England and Norway as potential opponents further down the line.
The only truly top draw side lined up for the Swedes is Germany, who they could meet in the quarter-finals if they beat Canada.
There was heartbreak for Chile meanwhile, who needed to beat Thailand by three goals in order to pip Nigeria into the knockouts.
They were 2-0 up with five minutes left when they were awarded a penalty via VAR, only for Francisca Lara to crash her spot-kick off the bar and see her side knocked out.
Earlier, Ajara Nchout fired Cameroon into the last 16 with a brilliant goal at the death that gave the Indomitable Lionesses a dramatic 2-1 win over eliminated New Zealand.
Just 10 seconds of the allotted five minutes of added time remained in the Group E clash in Montpellier when Nchout curled a shot into the net at the end of a slaloming run to give her side the victory and a spot in the next round as one of the four best third-placed teams.
The Netherlands meanwhile will take on Japan in Rennes on Tuesday after topping the group with a perfect nine points after beating Canada 2-1 thanks to substitute Lineth Beerensteyn’s winner 15 minutes from time.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)