USA subdue Vietnam, open 2023 Women’s World Cup in victory

Sophia Smith scored twice for USA in the opening half as the two-time defending champions kicked off their Women’s World Cup campaign with a 3-0 victory over tournament first-timers Vietnam on Saturday.

Lindsey Horan added a third goal for the favourites, who have won four World Cups overall and are vying for an unprecedented three-in-a-row in this year’s tournament.

Vietnam drew comparisons to Thailand, the team the Americans routed 13-0 in in their 2019 World Cup opening game.

But Vietnam was resilient, kept the game closer than expected, and goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh stopped Alex Morgan’s first-half penalty.

Morgan was knocked to the field clutching her calf after following up the rebound, but she quickly returned.

It was just her second penalty miss for the United States. Smith, one of 14 Americans playing in their first World Cup, showed why she was named both the country’s Player of the Year and the National Women’s Soccer League MVP last year with her two first-half goals.

Smith scored off a pass from captain Horan in the 14th minute. Smith and Horan celebrated with a choreographed handshake after the goal.

She scored again in first-half stoppage time to make it 2-0 going into the break.

The USA team was infused with young talent including Smith and Trinity Rodman after settling for a disappointing bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Among the veterans, 38-year-old Megan Rapinoe made her 200th international appearance against Vietnam.

Rapinoe, who scored in the World Cup final in France and was named that tournament’s best player, did not start.

She announced before the team left for New Zealand that this would be her last World Cup and she would retire from her professional team at the end of the season.

Rapinoe and midfielder Rose Lavelle, who were both limited by injuries in the run-up to the tournament, both came in as substitutes in the 63rd minute.

Rapinoe sported bright blue hair. The youngest player on the team, 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson, was also a second-half sub.

Horan scored into a wide-open net off a pass from Smith, who was rushed by the goalkeeper and deftly sent the ball back to her.

Horan, who was recently engaged, kissed her ring in celebration.

SkySports

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