Photo Credit: Hannah Peters – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
USA have got off to a solid start as they seek to retain their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ crown and make it an unprecedented three triumphs in a row but were made to work for the points by a resolute and aggressive Vietnam side, making their tournament debut.
Sophia Smith struck twice in the first half to give her side a 2-0 lead at the break, as Vietnam goalkeeper Thi Kim Thanh Tran performed admirably to keep the defending champions at bay. The stopper’s standout moment being a penalty save from USA forward Alex Morgan after a VAR check had confirmed that Trinity Rodman had been tripped in the box by defender Thi Thu Tran.
The second half followed a similar pattern of play with the USA spending the majority of the second 45 inside the Vietnam half, but were unable to sufficiently test Tran – despite some shaky moments from the keeper when claiming crosses.
The reigning champions sealed the three points with 15 minutes remaining when Lindsey Horan tucked away into an empty net after Sophia Smith had cut the ball back from the byline.
USA: 3 (Sophia SMITH 14′, 45+7′, Lindsey HORAN 77′)
In Group C action, Japan enjoyed a comfortable victory over Zambia in Hamilton as the 2011 champions got off to an impressive start.
Hinata Miyazawa gave the Nadeshiko the lead just before the break after Mina Tanaka had had an earlier effort ruled out following a VAR check for offside.
After a second disallowed goal for offside, Tanaka finally got herself on the scoresheet before Miyazawa added her second and Japan’s third. Jun Endo added a fourth to cap an excellent personal performance.
Substitute Riko Ueki completed the rout with a fifth from the penalty spot after Zambia goalkeeper Catherine Musonda was shown a second yellow and subsequent red after bringing down Ueki in the box.
Japan: 5 (Hinata MIYAZAWA 43′, 62′, Mina TANAKA 55′, Jun ENDO 71′, Riko UEKI PEN 90+11′)
European champions England laboured to a narrow victory over a Haiti side making their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ debut.
Georgia Stanway’s 29th minute penalty was enough to give the Lionesses the three points in the opening match of Group D in Brisbane.
The Bayern Munich midfielder confidently tucked away her penalty at the second time of asking, after her initial effort – which had been saved – was ordered to be retaken due to encroachment by Haiti goalkeeper Kerly Theus.
England: 1 (Georgia STANWAY PEN ’29)
In evening’s other Group D match, Denmark scored a late winner to take all three points in a tight victory over China in Perth.
Amalie Vangsgaard’s 90th minute header proved enough to settle matters in what was a scrappy and fractured affair.
As well as giving us the first headed goal of the World Cup, Denmark and China’s meeting was the first match so far without a penalty being awarded!
Denmark: 1 (Amalie VANGSGAARD 90′)