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FIFAWWC: USA, England, Denmark win as Japan trounce Zambia

THERE were victories for the favourites in all four matches at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup today in Australia and New Zealand, with defending champions United States of America, European champions England, Japan and Denmark all earning maximum points.

USA eased past Vietnam 3-0 in their opening Group E encounter in Auckland, New Zealand scoring twice in the first half and finishing off the job after the break.

Sophia Smith struck twice before half-time for the four-time world champions in front of thousands of travelling USA fans in a crowd of 41,107.

Captain Lindsey Horan, after an assist by Smith, netted the third goal in the 77th minute, and the United States missed the chance for a fourth when Alex Morgan’s penalty was saved by Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim late on.

In Brisbane, Australia, England were given a tough time by Haiti before prevailing 1-0 in a Group D encounter.

Georgia Stanway’s re-taken penalty gave the European champions victory despite an underwhelming performance by the Lionesses.

The midfielder kept her cool after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) adjudged Haiti goalkeeper Kerly Theus had stepped off her line too early as she saved her first attempt.

At the Waikato Stadium in New Hamilton, New Zealand, Japan produced the biggest win of the tournament so far, spanking African representatives Zambia 5-0 in their one-sided Group C clash.

Hinata Miyazawa struck twice for the 2011 champions, with Mina Tanaka, Jun Endo and Riko Ueki netting the other goals against the debutants.

Zambia, who finished third at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco last year after upsetting Nigeria in the bronze play-off, restricted Japan to just Miyazawa’s 43rd minute goal in the first half.

The Southern Africans then fell apart after the break, conceding four goals, including a penalty to Ueki in the 11th minute of stoppage time after goalkeeper Catherine Musonda was sent off.

In Perth, Australia, substitute Amalie Vangsgaard struck in the 89th minute to hand Denmark a 1-0 victory over former powerhouses China in a Group D clash.

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