USA soccer players started the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with a 3-0 win over Vietnam. Sophia Smith netted a brace for the defending champion, who will face the Netherlands in the group stage on Thursday.
The quadruple world champion did not have too much trouble against Vietnam, debuting in the World Cup, in front of more than 40,000 spectators in Auckland. Alex Morgan missed a penalty shortly before the break and plenty of chances went untapped after the break. Only captain Lindsey Horan managed to score in the 77th minute: 3-0. Megan Rapinoe entered for the United States after the break, with which the team’s figurehead played her 200th international match.
Thursday’s match with Orange is a repeat of the World Cup final four years ago.
National coach Sarina Wiegman had an extremely difficult start to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with the England players. The European champion and number 4 in the world ranking won 1-0 against Haiti in Brisbane. The only goal also came from a penalty, used by Georgia Stanway. Rookie in the World Cup, Haiti is the world number 53.
England took the lead after half an hour when Stanway scored a second goal from the penalty spot. Her first attempt was stopped by Kerley Theus, but the Haitian keeper left her line too soon. Substitute Roseline Eloissaint had the chance to equalize 10 minutes before the end, but goalkeeper Mary Earps prevented a debacle for England with a fine save.
“It was a tough game,” said Wiegman, who won the European title with Orange in 2017 and finished runners-up at the previous World Cup two years later. “We were absolutely ready, but Haiti also played very well. They play very unpredictable, very direct and have been very strong on the counter. I think the other countries in the group will struggle with them. I’m just happy with the 3 points.”
In the other Group D match, Denmark won 1-0 against China in Perth. Amalie Vangsgaard decided the match with a goal in the last minute of official time. Vangsgaard headed in a Pernille Harder corner.
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