Well, that’s more like it.
In what was a far-too-early must-win game, the United States Women’s National Team defeated New Zealand 6-1 during group play at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
Coming off a stunning and disheartening 3-0 loss to Sweden in the opener that snapped a 44-match unbeaten streak, the U.S. responded to the wake-up call, though its performance was hardly a flawless one.
The U.S. got its first goal of the Tokyo Games after Tobin Heath played a touch to a wide open Rose Lavelle, who scored inside the near post during the ninth minute.
The U.S. dominated possession throughout the half and found the back of the net repeatedly, but it wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard. The lead could have been much larger, but four goals scored by the U.S. in the opening 35 minutes were disallowed by offside.
In the final minutes of the half, and shortly after a near equalizer by New Zealand, the USWNT put another in the back of the net, and that one actually counted.
On a Megan Rapinoe corner kick, Julie Ertz kept the play alive by sending a header from the back post to the middle of the box, where Lindsey Horan headed the ball in for a 2-0 advantage.
The U.S. had 62 percent ball possession in the half, allowing New Zealand just one shot on goal.
An own goal by New Zealand following a failed clear attempt after a header by Carli Lloyd put the United States ahead 3-0 in the 65th minute .
The U.S. lost the shutout on a sloppy misclear by Abby Dahlkemper that led to a goal by Betsy Hassettin in the 72nd minute.
Christen Press and Alex Morgan added late goals, and New Zealand knocked its second goal of the game into its own net to put the U.S. ahead 6-1.
It was a lopsided win but a far from perfect performance by a team that has a long history of being the gold standard in women’s soccer. Still, it was a crucial victory and three points in the standings.
Sweden, with a 4-2 win over Australia on Saturday, sits atop Group G with six points. The United States and Australia are tied for second at 1-1, with the two teams squaring off on Tuesday at 4 a.m. ET. New Zealand is in last at 0-2.
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