July 24, (THEWILL) – After an unexpected and embarrassing 3-0 defeat on the opener at the Tokyo Olympics the American female football team, who were regarded as favourites for the gold medal in the football event bounced back strongly with a 6-1 whipping of New Zealand.
The world cup champions, who are seeking to be the first ever country to win gold at the Games after a world cup triumph, were in scintillating form from the whistle start. They could have thrashed the All Blacks by as much as 10 goals but had four goals disallowed for offside in the first half.
The doubters had criticised the aging squad for being disjointed and lacking cohesion when the merciless Swedish side took them apart in that 3-nil loss but there nothing of those shortcomings against New Zealand. Coach Vlatko Andonovski-led team was emphatic on getting their gold pursuit back on track.
Rose Lavelle opened the scoring after only nine minutes before Lindsey Horan added a second before half time. The two-goal cushion did not do justice to the circles the USWNT attack ran around the New Zealand defenders and it was only the offside rule that kept the score manageable.
The USWNT raised the notch after the hour mark and it began with an own-goal from all the pressure. The goal was awarded to New Zealander Abby Erceg and made it 3-0 before Betsy Hassett pulled one back for the All Whites. 3-1 could have been an assured bounce back from their 3-0 opening loss but the Americans were out for blood.
Andonovski introduced Christen Press in the 68th minute and Alex Morgan in the 74th minute and they justified their substitutions with the fourth and fifth USWNT goals of the game. Press went one further to force a late goal, which was unfortunate for New Zealand’s Catherine Bott as she turned the ball into her own net.
Although 6-1 gives the Americans just three points from the win, it serves to restore their confidence, get their pre-Olympic invincibility back in place, give them a goal-difference bump and return them to the favourites corner for the football gold in the women’s event at Tokyo.
And it was the best response after the outclassing that they suffered at the hands of the Swedes in that disappointing first game that they must now leave in the past and forge ahead in this form.