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Women’s World Cup: USA, Sweden advance ahead of Group F finale

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A roundup of Sunday’s action at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France…

[ WATCH: Carli Lloyd’s opening goal is vicious and clinical ]

USA 3-0 ChileFULL RECAP

The United States 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 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, 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 (WATCH HERE), and her second just 10 minutes before halftime.

Lloyd had the best possible opportunity to complete her hat trick in the 81st minute, but the36-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 (WATCH HERE, HERE and HERE) 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 (WATCH HERE).

Sweden 5-1 Thailand

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 (3 p.m. ET), they’ll be battling for top spot with a hefty, tie-breaking advantage favoring the USWNT.

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 favorite 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.

Monday’s Women’s World Cup schedule

Group A

China v. Spain — 12 p.m. ET
South Africa v. Germany — 12 p.m. ET

Group B

Nigeria v. France — 3 p.m. ET
South Korea v. Norway — 3 p.m. ET

Euro 2020 qualifying: Spain, Poland, record big wins, Rep. of Ireland tops Gibraltar

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Qualification for Euro 2020 continued on Monday with a bang, and there were goals galore across the continent.

Here is a rundown of all the results:

[READ: Women’s World Cup roundup]

Spain 3-0 Sweden

La Furia Roja stayed perfect in Euro 2020 qualifying as it ran away 3-0 winners over Sweden at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Spain peppered the Sweden net early on and it looked as though Dani Parejo had put Spain up front with a tap in, but he was deemed offside. Sergio Ramos opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 64th minute and then Alvaro Morata doubled it late with another penalty kick goal in the 85th minute. Mikel Oyarzabal put the finishing touches on the game two minutes later with a sweet left-footed finish past Sweden and Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

Poland 4-0 Israel

Poland moved five points clear of second-place Israel with a 4-0 win over the Blue and White at home in Warsaw. Krzysztof Piatek put Poland up 1-0 after a back and forth first half with a finish from an incredibly tight angle. It was still a pretty even game until Israeli centerback Shiran Yeini was whistled for a handball on the box while he slid to block a shot and the ball ricocheted into his hand. Robert Lewandowski stepped up and sent Israeli goalkeeper Ariel Harush the wrong way to put Poland in a commanding position, and Kamil Grosicki‘s left-footed strike truly put the game out of reach. Damian Kadzior’s final strike was the cherry on top for Poland in the big win as they sit comfortably on the way to qualifying.

Republic of Ireland 2-0 Gibralter

Robert Brady’s second half stoppage time goal helped lead the Republic of Ireland to a 2-0 win over the island of Gibraltar, putting Ireland at 10 points after four games, leading Group D, even ahead of Denmark, which knocked Ireland out of the 2018 World Cup. Ireland took the lead in the 29th minute after Seamus Coleman‘s cross was deflected into goal by Joseph Luis Chipolina.

Here are the other scores from around Euro 2020 qualifying:

Faroe Islands 0-2 Norway

Bulgaria 2-3 Kosovo

Serbia 4-1 Lithuania

Malta 0-4 Romania

Denmark 5-1 Georgia

North Macedonia 1-4 Austria

Czech Republic 3-0 Montenegro

Ukraine 1-0 Luxembourg

Latvia 0-5 Slovenia

Previewing USWNT’s Group Stage Opponents

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The U.S. Women’s National Team kicks off its World Cup defense on Tuesday, but who exactly are the USWNT facing? Let’s take a closer look.

[MORE: Women’s World Cup Content]

Thailand

How They Got Here: Thailand finished in the top five in the Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan in 2018, qualifying them for the 2019 World Cup.

Star players: Suchawadee Nildhamrong (Miranda Nild), Forward; Kanjana Sungngoen, Midfielder.

Nild, who’s Thai name is Suchawadee Nildhamrong, is one of two American-born players on the team (the other is backup goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao). Nild just wrapped up a four-year career at the University of California. Along with Sungngoen, the pair combined for six goals at the Asian Cup. Sungngoen is the top attacking player on this Thailand squad.

Style of play: Compact, counter-attacking system

Manager: Nuengrutai Srathongvian

Expectations: They shouldn’t be very high. Thailand may be able to compete in the Asian landscape, but against nations in Europe and the Americas, they’ve struggled mightily. The U.S. previously beat Thailand, 9-0 in a friendly match and finished third out of four in their group at the Cyprus Women’s Cup earlier this year. Just winning a game at the 2019 World Cup would be a huge accomplishment

What the USWNT should focus on: Considering that Thailand will be defending for their lives, it’s up to the USWNT’s creative players to not only make clever runs into space but to also find their teammates open in the box for chances on goal.


Chile

How they got here: Chile finished as runners-up in the Copa America Femenina, landing a place at the World Cup thanks to a 4-0 thrashing of Argentina in the final match of the tournament. It’s an amazing story, as Chile’s team basically didn’t play for two years between 2015 and 2017, and the majority of the team’s players are as such, inexperienced at the international level and playing abroad.

Star players: Maria Jose Rojas, Yanara Aedo

Style of play: Quick in transitions, fast passing.

Manager: Jose Letelier

Expectations: Playing in its first World Cup, expectations are low, but perhaps Chile can leave with a win, likely over Thailand.

What the USWNT should focus on: The USWNT had the fortune of playing Chile in a pair of friendly matches in late August-early September 2018, winning by a combined 7-0 margin. By working the wings with Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara, the USWNT can create overloads on the outside and deliver great balls into the box, where the likes of Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe can finish them off.


Sweden

How they got here: Sweden easily won Group 4 of the UEFA World Cup qualification process, with seven wins and just one defeat.

Star players: Stina Blackstenius, Caroline Seger

Style of play: Compact, defensive, direct counter-attacks in transitions

Manager: Peter Gerhardsson

Expectations: While not considered one of the favorites, Sweden is certainly a dark-horse to make a deep run in the tournament. They are very focused on keeping a compact defensive unit and then playing long and scoring on the counter. If they’re not giving up goals, they have a chance, especially after finishing runners-up at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

What the USWNT should focus on: Sweden of course is a team that the USWNT knows very well. It will be a huge challenge to break down the Sweden defense, so they’ll need Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe to combine with the midfield at times and make deep runs to open up space in behind for other teammates to use when attacking Sweden’s goal.

2019 Women’s World Cup preview: Groups D, E and F

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The Women’s World Cup begins Friday at the Parc des Princes in Paris, where hosts France will tangle with South Korea to kick off a month-long chase for the honor of being crowned the best team in women’s football.

PST’s Nicholas Mendola gave us the tour of Groups A, B and C this morning, so here’s the lowdown on the other half of the field.

Group D

The inside track: After finishing third in a World Cup (2015) and reaching the semifinals of the European Championship (2017) just two years apart, England enter this summer’s showpiece a trendy pick to make yet another deep run. Only this time, the Three Lionesses are under the guidance of a head coach, Phil Neville, without any major tournament experience. If you’re not already familiar with the work of forward Nikita Parris, it won’t be long before you are. Kim Little is one of the all-time greats and she can singlehandedly give Scotland every chance of challenging England for the top spot. Meanwhile, Japan appears halfway through a transition between the old guard (back-to-back World Cup finals, winning it all in 2011) and a younger generation of future stars. They could go either way.

Game schedule

Sunday, June 9: England v. Scotland

Monday, June 8: Argentina v. Japan

Friday, June 14: Japan v. Scotland

Friday, June 14: England v. Argentina

Wednesday, June 19: Japan v. England

Wednesday, June 19: Scotland v. Argentina

Three star players to watch

1) Kim Little, Scotland
2) Nikita Parris, England (below)
3) Karen Carney, England

Prediction

While Group D has three teams that are absolutely worth of the knockout rounds, it’s entirely possible — if not likely — that one of the three will be left out on account of a heavy concentration of points going to England and one of Scotland or Japan. England should finish top, then it’ll be the combination of Little and 20-year-old Erin Cuthbert ascending to superstardom to push Scotland past Japan.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Group E

The inside track: Once upon a time (not so long ago), this would have been Canada’s group to walk over, but that’s simply no longer the case, for two reasons: 1) Christine Sinclair’s legendary career is still going strong, but she’s now 35 and no longer the one-woman terror she once was; 2) the Dutch have built and attacking juggernaut and could very well put three (or more) past every team in the tournament. New Zealand will set out to defend for their lives, while Cameroon is a rising team more than capable of leapfrogging the Football Ferns for the inside track to third place and a spot in the knockout rounds.

Game schedule

Monday, June 10: Canada v. Cameroon

Tuesday, June 11: New Zealand v. Netherlands

Saturday, June 15: Netherlands v. Cameroon

Saturday, June 15: Canada v. New Zealand

Thursday, June 20: Netherlands v. Canada

Thursday, June 20: Cameroon v. New Zealand

Three star players to watch

1) Lieke Martens, Netherlands (below, center)
2) Christine Sinclair, Canada
3) Vivianne Miedema, Netherlands

Prediction

It’s setting up to be a tournament that rewards teams willing to take risks and attack with fervor, therefore it’ll be: Netherlands, Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Group F

The inside track: Arguably the most straightforward of all the groups, the only question we need answered from Group F is who’ll finish top — is it the obvious choice of the Americans, or the surprising Swedes? It’ll almost certainly be the former, which means Jill Ellis’ team will likely go into the same half of the bracket as England (potential quarterfinals opponent) and France (semifinals), assuming they can get past either Spain or China in a trick round-of-16 matchup. As for the others, Chile and Thailand will try to defend as if their lives depend upon doing so, likely making for an entertaining goal-differential contest between the favorites.

Game schedule

Tuesday, June 11: Chile v. Sweden

Tuesday, June 11: USA v. Thailand

Sunday, June 16: Sweden v. Thailand

Sunday, June 16: USA v. Chile

Thursday, June 20: Sweden v. USA

Thursday, June 20: Thailand v. Chile

Three star players to watch

1) Tobin Heath, USA (below)
2) Alex Morgan, USA
3) Kosovare Asllani, Sweden

Prediction

Tobin Heath is (finally) widely recognized as one of the world’s best players after putting up six-plus goals and assists (combined). The fact that Sweden is the USWNT’s final group game all but assures the starters will feature in all three games.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

EURO qualifying: A pair of 3-3 draws, feat. 3 stoppage-time goals

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A roundup of all of Tuesday’s action in 2020 European Championship qualification…

[ MORE: Report: Solskjaer to be named new United boss this week ]

Italy 6-0 Liechtenstein

Italy thrashed Liechtenstein on the back of two penalty kicks converted by Fabio Quagliarella (35th and 45th minutes), along with individual tallies from Stefano Sensi (17th), Marco Veratti (32nd), Moise Kean (70′) and Leonardo Pavoletti (76th).

With two victories from two games, and a +8 goal difference now in tow, Italy sit perched high atop Group J. With two sides set to qualify from the six-team group, it’s just about impossible to conjure up a scenario in which the Azzurri don’t qualify with more than a couple qualifiers still remaining.

Malta 0-2 Spain

Alvaro Morata bagged a brace (31st and 73rd minutes) to help Spain to a comfortable, if slightly labored, victory over Malta. Spain enjoyed a healthy 80 percent of possession and out-shot Malta by a margin of 23-2 (7-1 on target).

The only side with six points from their first two games, Spain lead Group F by two points over Sweden.

Switzerland 3-3 Denmark

The game of the day.

Remo Freuler put Switzerland ahead after 19 minutes. It would stay that way until the final 25 minutes, when a massive explosion of goals saw the game quickly get out of hand, in the most unimaginable of ways.

Granti Xhaka made it 2-0 in the 66th, and Breel Embolo made it 3-0 in the 76th. That was it, the game was over, done and dusted, right? Wrong.

Mathias Jorgensen brought Denmark back to 3-1 in the 84th, followed by Christian Gytkjaer in the 88th for 3-1. Deep into stoppage time — as in, three minutes deep — Henrik Dalsgaard completed the comeback with a header to clean up a mad scramble of failed headed clearances inside the penalty area.

Norway 3-3 Sweden

While also a six-goal thriller with stoppage-time drama, Sweden’s comeback was only from 2-0 down.

Bjoern Maars Johnsen (41st) and Joshua King (59th) established the lead just before the hour mark, and everything was going exactly to play for Norway. That remained the case until the 70th minute, when scored Viktor Claesson from open play. Norway scored again in the 86th minute, only Havard Nordtveit put the ball into his own net, which drew the Swedes level.

Robin Quaison gave Sweden the lead in the 91st minute, surely sealing all three points in a memorable comeback, right? Wrong again. Ola Kamara’s 96th-minute equalizer meant a 3-3 draw that neither side would be happy with, nor particularly dissatisfied.

Elsewhere in EURO 2010 qualifying

Group D

Ireland 1-0 Georgia

Group F

Romania 4-1 Faroe Islands

Group J

Bosnia & Herzegovina 2-2 Greece
Armenia 0-2 Finland