Wed, Jun 10, 2015 - Page 19 News List

US beat Australia 3-1 in tough start to Cup campaign

AFP, WINNIPEG, MANITOBA

Christen Press of the US celebrates after scoring a second-half goal against Australia during their FIFA Women’s World Cup Group D match at Winnipeg Stadium in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

A double from midfielder Megan Rapinoe helped get the US off to a 3-1 winning start in a tough test against Australia in the Women’s World Cup on Monday.

Favorites for a third title along with fellow two-time winners Germany, the US came up against a tenacious Australian side before Rapinoe’s double on 12 and 78 minutes and a Christen Press goal on 61 sealed victory.

Co-captain Lisa de Vanna marked her 100th cap for the Matildas by scoring after 27 minutes as the Australians dominated the first half.

It was the 36th goal for De Vanna since making her international debut in 2004.

Only for solid goalkeeping by Hope Solo in the US goal, the damage could have been worse for the 2011 runners-up.

As it is, Jill Ellis’ side are top of Group D with three points, followed by Nigeria and Sweden, who played out a 3-3 draw earlier, with Australia bottom.

In their next game, on Friday at Winnipeg Stadium, the US are to play Sweden, with Australia up against Nigeria.

The 1991 and 1999 winners, ranked second behind the Germans, were given a stiff test by the 10th-ranked Matildas on front of a largely American crowd at Winnipeg Stadium.

Solo was tested early by Emily van Egmond, but the US goalkeeper tipped the ball over the crossbar.

Australia came close again, with Solo denying Samantha Kerr’s well-hit volley.

However, the Matildas got their equalizer after a good spell of possession, Michelle Heyman passed to De Vanna, who made no mistake, firing into the side netting.

US captain Abby Wambach was largely uninvolved for most of the game, with her chance to score off a Rapinoe free-kick headed wide.

However, Press got the US back in the groove when she finished off a Sydney Leroux cross.

Fifteen minutes later, Rapinoe sealed the game with an impressive solo run down the field to fire past a helpless Melissa Barbieri in goal.

NIGERIA-SWEDEN

AFP, WINNIPEG, MANITOBA

African champions Nigeria fought back from two goals down to hold European heavyweights Sweden 3-3 in their Women’s World Cup Group D clash on Monday.

The Super Falcons showed determination from the outset to claim a first win in four meetings with the 2003 runners-up.

However, despite dominating early, the Africans fell behind after 21 minutes when Desire Oparanozie bungled in an own-goal following an Emma Berglund header from a corner.

Ten minutes later, they were two goals down to the fifth-ranked Swedes after a poor clearance allowed Nilla Fischer to score.

However, they came out fighting in the second half, with Ngozi Okobi reducing the deficit after 50 minutes past Hedvig Lindahl in the Sweden goal.

Three minutes later, Asisat Oshoala, the golden shoe winner at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014, leveled.

And in a desperate scramble, substitute Linda Sembrant put Sweden back on front only for Francisca Ordega to salvage a point for the 33rd-ranked Super Falcons three minutes from time with a goal that rolled through Lindahl’s legs.

“They expected to win, and at the end of the day we got a draw,” Nigeria coach Edwin Okon said. “Prayer is a key for the Nigerian team. We praise God. That is the key. I thought in the first half we were the stronger team.”

Nigeria next play Australia in Winnipeg tomorrow, with Sweden, now coached by former US coach Pia Sundhage, taking on the US.

“We’re not happy that we gave up three goals. However, at the end of the day, we got one point and there’s good things to bring to the next game,” Sundhage said. “The game plan was different than what you saw. Again, we got one point and next time, when we play the States, I hope we will follow the game plan.”

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