Le Havre, France, Jun 20 – The United States made it a perfect three wins out of three at the Women’s World Cup on Thursday by beating Sweden 2-0 to top Group F, as Chile missed a late penalty to lose out on the knockout stages at the death.
The Americans will continue their bid to defend their world title against Spain in Reims on Monday after a win that saw them make it 18 goals for the tournament and break the 24-year-old record for the number of goals scored in the group stage held by Norway.
Lindsey Horan opened the scoring when she tapped home Samantha Mewis’ flick with two minutes on the clock, and Tobin Heath made sure of the points by firing past Hedvig Lindahl four minutes after the break.
Heath’s strike somehow survived a VAR check from referee Anastasia Pustovoytova despite substitute Carli Lloyd looking to be offside in the build up.
Sweden started with a team with seven changes from the side that beat Thailand 5-1 last time out and four players making their World Cup debut, and offered very little attacking threat.
However their defeat means that they face Canada next in Paris on Monday and are in an easier side of the knockout draw from the States, who have hosts France, England and Norway as potential opponents further down the line.
The only truly top draw side lined up for the Swedes is Germany, who they could meet in the quarter-finals if they beat Canada, who lost 2-1 to Group E winners the Netherlands earlier on Thursday.
There was heartbreak for Chile meanwhile, who needed to beat Thailand by three goals in order to pip Nigeria into the knockouts.
They were 2-0 up with five minutes left when they were awarded a penalty via VAR, only for Francisca Lara to crash her spot-kick off the bar and see her side knocked out.
– Lionesses roar –
Just 10 seconds of the allotted five minutes of added time remained in Montpellier when Nchout curled her team into the next round as one of the best third-placed teams after a slaloming run.
Nchout, who plays club football in Norway, had earlier given Cameroon the lead in the 57th minute, controlling with her shoulder before slotting home.
However, when Aurelle Awona sliced a Katie Bowen cross into her own net with 10 minutes left, it looked as though both teams were heading out.
Instead, Nchout’s last-gasp goal means Cameroon go through as one of the best third-placed sides, while New Zealand return home without a point.
The Netherlands will meet Japan in the last 16 after Lineth Beerensteyn turned in a Desiree van Lunteren cross in the 75th minute in Reims to seal their win over Canada and advance as Group E winners.
Canada thought they had won a penalty inside two minutes in Reims only for French referee Stephanie Frappart to overturn her decision following a VAR review.
The Dutch took the lead early in the second half when Anouk Dekker headed in from a free-kick, but Canada drew level soon after as Christine Sinclair converted at the back post from an inviting low cross by Ashley Lawrence.
It was the veteran Sinclair’s 182nd goal for her country, leaving her just two shy of Abby Wambach’s international record with the United States, but wasn’t enough to beat their opponents to first place.