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USA 0-0 Portugal: Reigning champs scrape through to last 16
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
USA players wait for a corner kick (Andrew Cornaga/AP)
USA players wait for a corner kick (Andrew Cornaga/AP)

The United States moved into the last 16 of the World Cup in nervy fashion, finishing as Group E runners-up after a 0-0 draw with Portugal at Auckland’s Eden Park.

The four-time and defending champions would have crashed out with a shock defeat, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Portugal substitute Ana Capeta’s stoppage-time shot hit the post during a tense finale.

US forwards Lynn Williams and Alex Morgan had earlier seen efforts blocked as Vlatko Andonovski’s world number one side delivered an unconvincing performance, while the Netherlands, with whom they drew 1-1 on Thursday, replaced them in top spot in the group with a 7-0 thrashing of Vietnam in Dunedin.

The US, seeking a third successive title, will now face the winner of Group G – which looks set to be Sweden – on Sunday in Melbourne for a place in the quarter-finals, with the Dutch taking on the runner-up from that pool in Sydney the same day.

Portugal, ranked 21st in the world, bow out but can be proud of their achievements in what is their debut Women’s World Cup campaign, with this fine result coming five days after their first ever win at this level, the 2-0 victory over Vietnam.

Morgan and Williams made unsuccessful attempts on goal as the United States exerted early pressure before a good chance for Portugal saw Jessica Silva shoot across the face of goal and wide.

Williams subsequently had a close-range strike parried by Ines Pereira just before the half-hour mark, with her follow-up effort going over the bar.

With the US struggling somewhat to find their rhythm, midfielder Rose Lavelle picked up a booking that meant she would be suspended for the last-16 match, and Kika Nazareth sent a dipping shot over the bar.

Williams was then presented with another opportunity in first-half stoppage time, but hit her shot into Pereira’s arms.

Early in the second half Morgan went around Pereira and saw her shot blocked by Diana Gomes, then headed over, as did Williams.

Andonovski then brought on Megan Rapinoe, but the US continued to underwhelm, with Morgan having a low shot held by Pereira.

There had been a scare for the champions when Alyssa Naeher fumbled a Carole Costa cross in the 82nd minute, and an even greater one followed as Capeta cracked a shot against the post in added time.

Portugal continued to make life uncomfortable for their opponents in the closing stages before the final whistle confirmed the US were through.


Women's World CupUSAUSA WPortugalPortugal W
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