The United States knew ahead of kickoff that a draw would be enough to see them through to the round-of-sixteen – while their European opponents would need a win to guarantee their participation in the next stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
POR: Înes Pereira; Amado, Costa, D Gomes, Borges; Dolores Silva; Norton, Nazareth, T Pinto; Diana Silva, J Silva
USA: Naeher; Dunn, Girma, Ertz, Fox; Horan, Sullivan, Lavelle; Smith, Morgan, Williams
Alex Morgan looked to be a thorn in the side of Înes Pereira throughout the opening stages of this clash in Auckland, forcing the Portuguese goalkeeper to rush out and smother the ball before she could latch onto Lynn Williams’ header across the face of goal.
Yet the Seleção das Quinas had chances of their own against the reigning World Champions, with Kika Nazareth driving towards goal from a central position before selflessly laying the ball off to Jessica Silva. The striker ventured beyond the American defence, finding herself one-on-one with Alyssa Naeher before blasting her effort wide of the target.
Alex Morgan was involved once again as the focal point of the USWNT attack just before the half-hour mark, driving infield from the byline before creating space to whip in a cross. Her delivery found Lynn Williams – but the ‘keeper was able to produce a fine save, and the winger blasted the rebound over the woodwork.
The best chance for Vlatko Andonovksi’s side to take the lead came just minutes into the second half, with Lindsey Horan teeing up Alex Morgan inside the penalty area. The latter found herself one-on-one with Înes Pereira, and managed to beat the ‘keeper – but a great recovery from Diana Gomes saw her effort scooped off the line.
The match seemed to be heading for a goalless draw, which would be enough to see the United States qualify for the round-of-sixteen, until a blistering break from Portugal saw Ana Capeta break through the back of the American defence and smash an effort against the base of the post, despite having Alyssa Naeher beaten. Had the substitute found the back of the net, the United States would have been heading home after just three matches.
Ultimately though, Vlatko Andonovski’s side were able to hang on and clinch the all-important point that sends them through to the knockout rounds. They finish as runners-up in Group E, meaning they’ll play the winners of Group G – Sweden or Italy – on August 6.