TOKYO: The United States bounced back from their embarrassing opening defeat by Sweden in the Tokyo Olympics women’s football competition, thrashing New Zealand 6-1 on Saturday, while Britain and the Swedes reached the quarter-finals.
The previously all-conquering Americans had seen a 44-match unbeaten run ended by a 3-0 loss to Sweden on Wednesday, but with captain Megan Rapinoe restored to the starting line-up, they romped to victory to put their campaign back on track.
They face Australia in Kashima on Tuesday, knowing three points would make sure of a quarter-final place.
First-half goals from Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan put Vlatko Andonovski’s side two goals ahead at the break before New Zealand defender Abby Erceg’s 63rd-minute own goal.
Betsy Hassett got the Kiwis on the scoresheet with 18 minutes remaining, but the reigning world champions brought on the firepower of Christen Press and Alex Morgan late on.
Press and Morgan, who have now scored 175 international goals between them, both found the net and another own goal, this time from Catherine Bott, added further gloss to the scoreline.
The thumping win leaves the US in second place in Group G behind Sweden, who booked a last-eight spot with a dramatic 4-2 success against Australia.
Fridolina Rolfo broke the deadlock for the Scandinavians, but Chelsea star Sam Kerr scored twice to turn the game in the Aussies’ favour.
Lina Hurtig drew Sweden level and Rolfo’s second put them in front, but the key moment of the game in the 69th minute.
Kerr, who also scored in the opening 2-1 win over New Zealand, saw a penalty well saved by goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Striker Stina Blackstenius came off the bench to grab a fourth goal for Sweden.
– White sends Britain through –
Ellen White’s third goal of the Games boosted Britain’s bid for a first Olympic women’s football medal with a 1-0 victory over hosts Japan in Sapporo.
The 2019 World Cup semi-finalists sit top of Group E after back-to-back wins.
“We are all happy with two wins now. It puts us in a good position, able to rest players and recover well. We are very happy,” coach Hege Riise told the BBC.
Canada moved into second place in Britain’s group as Janine Beckie scored a brace and missed a spot-kick as they saw off Chile 2-1.
Most of the drama came in Group F, as Dutch star Vivianne Miedema and Zambia striker Barbra Banda both equalled the record for most goals scored in an Olympic women’s tournament.
Arsenal’s Miedema, who netted four times in the Netherlands’ remarkable 10-3 win against Zambia, grabbed a double in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Brazil.
That drew her level with the six goals Canada’s Christine Sinclair scored at the 2012 London Games.
Her goals put the Dutch in control after an hour in Miyagi despite Debinha’s strike for Brazil, but Marta, who has scored at five straight Olympics, levelled from the spot before Ludmila’s 68th-minute effort.
Dominique Janssen snatched a point for the Netherlands though which puts them ahead of Brazil at the top of the table on goal difference.
Zambia have been the team to watch for the neutrals so far, with their two games having seen 21 goals scored after their 4-4 draw against China.
Banda, who scored a hat-trick in the Netherlands loss, netted another treble as Zambia came back from 3-1 down to lead 4-3.
But Wang Shuang’s 83rd-minute penalty, her fourth goal of the game, secured China a point.
It was the second time in as many games Banda has scored three and not been the top scorer in the match, after Miedema’s four-goal haul three days ago.
“I’ve not set the number of goals I will score,” said the 21-year-old. “I just want to score as many goals as possible. The little chance I have, I have to utilise it.”