With both Portugal and Vietnam having lost their opening games, and the United States having drawn with the Netherlands, a draw at Waikato Stadium on Thursday would leave Group E wide open. But if one side were able to take home all three points, that would mathematically spell the end of the loser’s FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.
POR: Morais; Marchão, Carole, Seiça, Lúcia; T Pinto, Andreia, Kika; Jéssica Silva, Encarnação, Ana Borges
VIE: TT Kim Thanh; H Thi Loan, T Thi Thu, LT Thu Thuong, TT Thu Thao; Tha Nguyen, Thai, Duong, B Nguyen; Huynh Nhu
With just more than five minutes played, it was the Seleçao das Quinas that took advantage of their shaky opponents. Lúcia’s cross from the right flank was delivered with pinpoint accuracy, allowing Telma Encarnação to slot home at the far post and hand Portugal an early lead.
Portugal’s second looked almost inevitable, with the European nation continuing to apply immense pressure on the Vietnamese devolve – and Kika Nazareth’s composed effort was the next to nestle in the back of the net.
Yet despite an improved spell from Vietnam towards the end of the opening half, Portugal’s two-goal lead remained intact at the break. The European nation struggled to build upon their advantage though, with players keen to get their name on the scoresheet firing too early and squandering golden opportunities.
With fifteen minutes remaining, the travelling Portuguese contingent sparked into life to celebrate their pending win – and a result that would leave them firmly in contention for a spot in the knockout rounds.
Portugal will likely feel aggrieved that they didn’t score five or six, but a crucial three points ensures that they stand every chance of reaching the knockouts on their debut appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Against the United States, the Seleçao das Quinas will need three points to guarantee progression, though a draw may prove to be enough depending on the Dutch result. Both of the final group stage games commence at 8am UK time on August 1, with Vietnam mathematically incapable of progressing any further.