NICE, France – The United States came out the last but record-setting group leaders to make the FIFA Women’s World Cup knockouts after beating Sweden 2-0 in Le Havre, France on Thursday.
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The defending champions, who topped the Group F after the victory, improved the quadrennial event’s scoring record by single team in group stage to 18 goals.
Lindsey Horan netted the fastest goal so far at this tournament when she scored in the third minute on Thursday evening.
Five minutes after the break, the American outfit were 2-0 up as Sweden defender Jonna Andersson deflected a shot by Tobin Heath into the goal.
The reigning title holders will face Group B runners-up Spain in the round of 16, and Group F runners-up Sweden will play Group E runners-up Canada.
Chile won 2-0 over Thailand in the other Group F match but failed to seize a knockout spot on goal differentials as Cameroon took a 2-1 victory over New Zealand earlier in the same evening to finish third in Group E.
Ajara Nchout became the heroine of Cameroon as her brace including a last-gasp winner helped the African squad cruise into the knockout stage.
After a goalless first half, Nchout broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when she shook off the defenders in the box and placed a smart shot into the net.
The Kiwis scored the leveler in the 80th minute with a stroke of luck when Aurelle Awona surprisingly shinned Katie Bowen’s cross into her own net.
The game culminated in the dying minute as Nchout surged into the box after mazy run and curled the ball into the net.
With Thursday’s results, Chile and Cameroon both earned three points from as many matches from their respect groups, but the latter had a 3-5 goals for and against record, bettering than Chile’s 2-5.
Cameroon’s advancing means China, the third-placed Group B side with four points, are set to face Italy in the last 16 on June 25 in Montpellier, while Cameroon themselves will challenge Group C winners England in Valenciennes on Sunday.
Group B leaders Germany are opening the knockout stage earlier on Saturday evening with a Nigeria match in Grenoble, and Norway played Austraia in Nice later.
Hosts France encounter women’s soccer legend Marta’s Brazil, as other round of 16 matches pit the Netherlands and Japan in Rennes on Tuesday.