Holders United States Stumble Into World Cup Last 16 But Dutch Rampant
Holders the United States squeezed into the last 16 of the Women's World Cup with a shaky 0-0 draw against debutants Portugal on Tuesday
Holders the United States squeezed into the last 16 of the Women's World Cup with a shaky 0-0 draw against debutants Portugal on Tuesday to finish second in Group E behind a rampant Netherlands. England will hope to have far less trouble when the European champions look to get the draw they need against China to reach the knockouts as Group D winners. The United States came to Australia and New Zealand as favourites -- ahead of England -- to win an unprecedented third World Cup in a row.
But they have been nothing like the team that has dominated international women's football for so long and will need to be a lot better if they are to go much farther at the tournament.
Portugal came within inches of the win they needed to progress -- and dump out the Americans -- when substitute Ana Capeta hit the post in injury time in front of almost 41,000 in Auckland.
But the US held on and are likely to face a Sweden team in the last 16 who thrashed Italy 5-0 last time out.
US coach Vlatko Andonovski attempted to put a positive spin on what was an alarmingly poor performance by the team ranked number one in the FIFA rankings.
"The most important thing was to get the job done," he said.
"This is a fairly new team that have not been together for a long time.
"The more time they spend together the more chances will go in."
The Netherlands, who drew 1-1 with the US team last week in a rerun of the 2019 final, racked up the biggest win of this World Cup with a 7-0 demolition of already eliminated Vietnam.
Esmee Brugts and Jill Roord both scored twice for the Dutch, who topped the group with seven points and a goal difference of plus eight.
The US were second on five points while Portugal were edged out on four. Vietnam failed to get a point.
England will meet Nigeria next if they get the point against China they need to top Group D.
Sarina Wiegman's side will be without key midfielder Keira Walsh due to a knee injury.
Denmark, who are in pole position to get out of the group with England, face Haiti and are through if they win.
Co-hosts Australia await in the last 16.
On Wednesday, Brazil will need to beat Jamaica to guarantee their place in the knockout rounds. Jamaica only need a point.
Football legend Marta was moved to tears as the Brazilian reflected on her career and legacy on the eve of what could be her final World Cup appearance.
The 37-year-old Marta -- nicknamed "Pele in a skirt" by the late football great -- has already said this will be her last World Cup.
She is the all-time leading goal-scorer in World Cups, men's or women's, and if she adds to her tally of 17 she will be the first footballer in history to score at six World Cups.
"You know what's good? When I started there were no idols in women's football," she told reporters on the eve of the match, tears filling her eyes.
"How could there be if you didn't show women's football? How could I understand that I would reach the national team and become a reference point?
"Now I go out on the street and people stop me, parents say to me, 'My daughter adores you, she wants to be just like you'."
Also on Wednesday in the same Group F, France face Panama with a point enough to go through.
In Group G, already qualified Sweden play Argentina and South Africa face Italy.
The Italians will qualify -- and have a date with the Dutch -- with victory, while a draw could also be enough.
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