Hope Solo led from under the bar displaying her brilliance in the first half as the U.S. outplayed Australia in the second session to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup opener on Monday. Tied 1-1 at the half-time, the U.S. convincingly won 3-1.
Hot favorite U.S. had a dismal first half when the world’s best goalkeeper pulled off a number of spectacular saves to keep them afloat.
“I am perfectly focused, sir, perfectly focused,” Solo said after the game. She was asked whether the latest revelations from a report of domestic violence charges involving her half-sister and nephew distracted her preparations.
If it was Hope Solo, who led the team from behind, Megan Rapinoe guided the side upfront at the Winnipeg stadium. Rapinoe struck a brace and also did the spadework for the second goal.
“Megan thrives in these big games, big moments,” said U.S. coach Jill Ellis. “She’s got ice running through her veins a lot of passion running inside of her.”
The Aussies created immense pressure in the early minutes of the game in the U.S. goalmouth. Solo twice parried the Australian strikers and Rapinoe drew first blood in the 12th minute against the run of play. Her shot deflected defender Laura Alleway and shook the net. Australia equalized in the 27th minute Lisa De Vanna fired home beating Solo in the near-post.
U.S. took control of the game in the second half unleashing forays of attack. Rapinoe initiated a move through the left channel and found Sydney Leroux in the 61st minute. Leroux evaded the opponent defender and passed to an unmarked Christen Press who calmly slotted home.
Rapinoe’s left-footer smacked the net in the 78th minute to seal the match for the US.
“A little bit of a shaky game for us, especially the first 30 (minutes),” Rapinoe said. “Hope came up absolutely huge for us. I think she had three saves that nobody else in the world could make. That was amazing.”