USA were able to hold off a spirited Australian side to win 3-1 in front of a largely American audience at the Winnipeg Stadium, giving Jill Ellis’s squad a strong start to their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ campaign.
Hope Solo was tested early from Emily van Egmond’s drive, but the USA goalkeeper managed to tip the ball on to the crossbar. Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring following a great bit of skill, controlling the loose ball then spinning away to create enough space for a long-range strike, which deflected off Laura Alleway enough to wrong-foot goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri.
Australia came close again, with Solo denying Samantha Kerr’s well-hit volley from only a few yards. The Matildas then found their equaliser after a good spell of possession and build-up in the Americans’ final third. Michelle Heyman unselfishly passed to captain Lisa De Vanna, who made no mistake, finishing into the side netting.
USA captain Abby Wambach, who was largely uninvolved for most of the game, should have done better with an open header off of Rapinoe’s free-kick late in the first half, but the No20 fired wide.
After a quiet start to the second half, Christen Press gave USA the lead, much to the delight of the American supporters in the stadium. Sydney Leroux drove down the left side and picked out Press, who was alone in the area and calmly finished into the far corner.
The second goal for the Stars and Stripes took the wind out of Australia’s sails slightly, and 15 minutes later Rapinoe made the game safe for the Americans. The US No15 picked up the ball in her own half, ran the length of the pitch, beat the last defender and fired past Barbieri.
Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Megan Rapinoe (USA)