United States 1-1 The Netherlands: Horan rescues a point for the reigning World Champions

Beginning their pursuit of an unrivalled third consecutive World Cup title, the USA named an unchanged starting XI from the side that comprehensively defeated Vietnam 3-0 on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Netherlands began their 2023 WWC campaign with a 1-0 victory over Portugal – but manager Andries Jonker decided on the solitary change with Katja Snoeijs taking the place of Lineth Beerensteyn.

USA: Naeher, Fox, Ertz, Girma, Dunn; DeMelo, Sullivan, Horan; Rodman, Morgan, Smith

NET: Van Domselaar, Spitse, van der Gragt, Janssen; Groenen, Pelova, Brugts, Roord; van de Donk; Snoeijs, Martens

In a repeat of the 2019 Women’s World Cup final, in which the USA emerged as victors (2-0), the Netherlands began assertively in search of avenging that defeat. They took one step towards achieving their mission in the 17th minute, as Jill Roord fired Victoria Pelova’s pin-point pass into the bottom right-hand corner past Alyssa Naeher.

Seeking an immediate response, and in the process protecting their record of 13 successive victories spanning across the previous two WWC finals, the USA were close to getting back on level terms almost immediately. However, Aston Villa’s newest acquisition Daphne van Domselaar was up to the challenge – pushing Trinity Rodman’s ambitious long-range strike away from any pending danger.

Keen to extend their slender advantage before half-time, Jonker’s side were close to doubling their tally on the stroke of the half-hour mark, but Dominique Janssen could only turn away in frustration as her dipping volley from the fringes of the area landed on the roof of the net. 

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With the game still on a knife edge, both managers turned to their substitutions’ bench during the interval, with the USA introducing Rose Lavelle and the Dutch bringing in Aniek Nouwen from the dugout – but and it was the Stars and Stripes alteration who played a pivotal part in the breakthrough for the reigning champions. Her inswinging corner in the 62nd minute was headed home by captain Lindsey Horan, and momentum now in their sails, the USA menacingly made their way up the field once more, firing the ball into the back of the net for a second time in five minutes. However, on this occasion, the offside flag spared the Dutch’s blushes, as Alex Morgan was adjudged to have strayed marginally beyond the shoulder of the last defender in the build-up.

Despite bombarding van Domselaar’s goal throughout the concluding stages, the USA were left a frustrating figure at the sound of referee Yoshimi Yamashita’s whistle at full-time, as Rodman fired the final goalscoring opportunity of the contest disappointingly wide with the prospect of hitting the far corner of the goal at her mercy.

A share of the spoils in Wellington leaves Group E wide open ahead of Portugal’s match against Vietnam, as depending on the result of that match all four nations could all still be in with a chance of progressing through to the knockout stages of this year’s tournament.

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