Rapinoe scores twice in 3-1 US win over Australia
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Megan Rapinoe scored twice and the United States overcame early defensive shakiness to beat Australia 3-1 on Monday in their opening game at the Women’s World Cup.
The result put the U.S. on top of Group D, in which the other game between Sweden and Nigeria ended 3-3.
In Group C, defending champion Japan opened its campaign with a 1-0 win against Switzerland while Cameroon swept past Ecuador 6-0.
Christen Press also scored for the second-ranked U.S., which is seeking its third World Cup title and first since 1999.
Lisa De Vanna had equalized midway through the first half for Australia.
“We were a bit nervous,” Rapinoe said. “Couldn’t play a lot worse at times.
“But we settled in a bit and we were able to get some goals. Three points, that’s most important, especially in this group that’s shaping up a little weird.”
The U.S., which won the title in 1991 and ’99, has five wins and two draws from its opening games at World Cups and improved to a remarkable record of 23 wins, two draws and no losses against Australia.
U.S. star forward Alex Morgan, sidelined by a bone bruise in her left knee, entered in the 79th minute in her first game action since April 11 with her club Portland.
In her absence, 35-year-old Wambach and Canada-born Sydney Leroux started up top against the Matildas, while Hope Solo was in goal a day after an ESPN report revealed new details about her arrest a year ago on domestic violence charges.
The charges were dismissed by a judge earlier this year, but prosecutors told ESPN there is an appeal scheduled.
“That was a long time ago. We’ve moved on,” coach Jill Ellis said. “She’s been a fantastic player and teammate. None of that has even resonated with us, and I’m sure many of the players aren’t aware of it.”
Solo had work to do early. She was tested in the fifth minute, when she tipped Emily Van Egmond’s shot off the crossbar and over. She made another save on Michelle Heyman in the 13th.
Rapinoe opened the scoring in the 12th minute when her kick from the top of the penalty area deflected off an Australia player past goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri.
“I was doing my best Messi impression,” Rapinoe said. “A much slower version.”
But De Vanna equalized midway through the half when she slotted the ball inside the near post for her 36th goal in 100th international appearances.
Press scored off a cross from Leroux in the 61st minute and Rapinoe’s second goal in the 78th all but sealed the result.
In the other Group D game, Francisca Ordega scored in the 87th minute to give Nigeria a point from a 3-3 draw with Sweden.
Nilla Fischer put Sweden up 2-0 in the first half with a goal in the 31st minute after Nigeria conceded an own goal. Nigeria evened it in the second half when Ngozi Okobi and Asisat Oshoala scored in a three-minute span.
Linda Sembrant came off the bench to put Sweden up 3-2 before Ordega’s drive sailed between goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl’s legs for the equalizer.
Fifth-ranked Sweden, under former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, faces her former team on Friday in one of the most anticipated matches of the group stage.
Japan began the defense of its title with victory over Switzerland thanks to Aya Miyama’s 29th minute penalty.
The spotkick was awarded and Swiss goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann was shown a yellow card following a collision with Japan’s Kozue Ando inside the box. Yuki Ogimi set up the run by Ando with a chip over the Switzerland defense.
Ramona Bachmann, who had several quality runs on goal in the second half for Switzerland, had an open shot in final minute of stoppage time but put it over the bar.
Cameroon scored three goals in a nine-minute stretch late in the first half and routed Ecuador 6-0.
Gaelle Enganamouit had a hat trick for 53rd-ranked Cameroon, which converted three penalties. Enganamouit scored in the 36th and 73rd minutes, and netted a penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time to complete her hat trick.
Madeleine Ngono Mani put Les Lionnes ahead in the 34th minute, and captain Christine Manie’s penalty made it 3-0 in the 44th. Aboudi Onguene also converted a penalty in the 79th,
Ecuador was a player down from the 66th minute after Ligia Moreira was sent off.
Cameroon plays Japan on Friday, and Ecuador meets Switzerland next.