The United States of America (USA) and Sweden were widely expected to finish one-two — or two-one — in Group F from the moment the draw was held, and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday, June 16 as the Americans breezed past Chile for a 3-0 victory to remain top of Group F with one game left to play.
On the back of their tournament-opening, 13-goal victory over Thailand, the Yanks sit atop the group with six points and a +16 goal differential.
Carli Lloyd made her way into the starting lineup of USA, as one of seven changes to Jill Ellis’ starting 11, and responded with a pair of goals in the opening 35 minutes.
The first came after 11 minutes, and her second just 10 minutes before halftime.
Lloyd had the best possible opportunity to complete her hat trick in the 81st minute, but the 36-year-old, 2015 World Player of the Year smashed her penalty kick just wide of the right-hand post of Christiane Endler, whose Herculean performance kept the Chileans within touching distance when it could just as easily have finished 7-0.
Julie Ertz bagged the USWNT’s second goal in the 26th minute.
In the day’s other game, Sweden cruised to a comfortable 5-1 victory over Thailand — to go with their 2-0 victory over Chile — to also reach the six-point mark, but with a goal differential of only +6.
When the Americans and Swedes meet in their Group F finale on Thursday, they’ll be battling for the top spot with a hefty, tie-breaking advantage favouring the USA.
There is, of course, the interesting subplot that whichever side finishes top of Group F will be just one more victory away from a quarterfinals matchup with the host nation and strong favourite to win this tournament, France.
On the other hand, whoever finishes second will move to the other half of the bracket and avoid the French until a potential meeting in the final.
While it was Sweden’s day, on the whole, the lasting memory of Sunday’s game will forever be Thailand’s emotional celebration following their first goal of the tournament.