US to battle for top spot in Women’s World Cup group after draw with Netherlands
Alex Morgan said Thursday that the United States will not be content to merely qualify for the Women’s World Cup last 16 and will instead do everything to win their group.
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The holders battled back to draw 1-1 with the Netherlands in Wellington after skipper Lindsey Horan cancelled out a first-half strike by Jill Roord.
The stalemate left both teams locked on four points and neither is yet assured of a berth in the knockout phase heading into their final group games on Tuesday, when the US face Portugal and the Dutch play Vietnam.
The United States however have a superior goal difference after beating Vietnam 3-0 in their opener while the Dutch defeated Portugal 1-0.
“This next game is going to be extremely important,” said Morgan, already a two-times World Cup winner with her country and chasing a historic third title in a row.
“Goal differential is a huge factor in terms of first place in the group.
“Now we have to work even harder to get the goals and make sure we get first place.”
In what was a rematch of the 2019 final, when the Americans won 2-0, the US started slowly and went behind in the first half before recovering in the second.
Striker Morgan thought she had won the game, only for the offside flag to cut short her celebrations, and a bullet strike from Sophia Smith was kept out by a goal-line clearance from Lieke Martens.
“I think we were unlucky not to get a second goal. We had so many opportunities, crosses, chances cleared off the line,” Morgan said.
“I feel that coming back in the second half, and attacking with wave after wave, was important.
“It’s just unfortunate that first place is now up for grabs, but we are going to do everything we can in this next game.”
“I think the fact this team fought back is a little bit of that mentality that we needed,” Morgan added.
Horan’s 62nd-minute headed equaliser from a corner came moments after a flashpoint between the US midfielder and her Lyon teammate Danielle van de Donk when the Dutch player clattered into her.
“I’m sure it felt really sweet for Lindsey to score that goal having had a little bit of back and forward with Van de Donk,” Morgan said.
“They’re a really aggressive, physical team.
“There was definitely some frustrations for the ref not pulling up some yellows on them, so to get the goal right after that felt even better.”
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