A ticket to the knockout stages awaits two teams separated by twenty points on the FIFA ranking when top dogs and defending champions United States meet debutants Portugal in their last match in Group E. Both teams know that a win or draw (although Vietnam needs to beat the Netherlands if Portugal plays a draw) for both teams will likely push them both to the knockout round. However, Vietnam, who are rock-bottom in Group E with no points so far, is very unlikely to beat The Oranje, so it will surely be a game of “who wants it more” between both teams.
Portugal lost their first-ever World Cup match to the Netherlands in a comfortable 1-0 victory for the Ornaje. The Portuguese however recovered to play a wonderful game against the Vietnamese, scoring two goals. Telma Encarnacao opened the scoring for the Europeans against the Asians, becoming the lucky lady to score Portugal’s first World Cup goal. A second followed in the twenty-first minute after a fine run from Kika Nazareth brought her face with the goalkeeper, scoring to assert themselves over the game. Portugal should have scored five more goals, such was the brilliance of their play, although it could also be argued that Vietnam were poor in output and energy.
The Stars and Stripes meanwhile started on a convincing note, putting three goals past the Vietnamese without reply. They then faced the Oranje to play a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final where the United States breezed past them in a triumphant and comprehensive 4-nil win to take home the trophy for the second consecutive time. They were, however, in for a surprise, as they could not stamp their authority on the first half. Jill Roord gave the Netherlands the lead in the seventeen minute, and the United States could only restore parity in the sixtieth minute through midfield orchestrator Lindsey Horan to take home a share of the spoils. They played better in the second half, though, which boosted their chances of taking home a win or a draw.
There are sure to be some nerves out there when both teams step out into the lush green of Australia’s Eden Park tomorrow. While Portugal are playing in their first tournament, they have shown that they can hold their own, a fact that is sure to inspire confidence. The United States, on the other hand, will be looking to draw on their wealth of experience and sheer quality to get them through the match. Football surely favours the bold, and we will know who has this in spades when the match is over.
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