Portugal knocks Vietnam out of Women's World Cup with first-ever victory
HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) — Telma Encarnacao scored one goal and assisted on another as Portugal defeated Vietnam 2-0 on Thursday in the Women’s World Cup, a win that ensured Vietnam will not advance to the knockout stage.
Portugal jumped ahead in the seventh minute following a quick series of decisive passes through the Vietnamese defense. Lucia Alves dropped in a perfect cross to Encarnacao at the top of the six-yard box for a simple finish.
Portugal still has a shot to advance out of the group stage but will need to win or draw against the United States, with a Netherlands loss next Tuesday against Vietnam.
In the 21st minute, Portugal turned a goal kick from Vietnam into a chance, taking possession and moving downfield. Encarnacao slipped the ball to Kika Nazareth as she raced through defenders, and the 20-year-old forward slotted the second goal of the night to the left of goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh.
Portugal coach Francisco Neto held out seven starters from the team's 1-0 loss to the Netherlands, including 31-year-old captain Dolores Silva and goalkeeper Ines Pereira. Both Encarnacao and Nazareth came off the bench in the loss to the Dutch; both started in the win over Vietnam.
About 6,650 fans turned out to Waikato Stadium, which has a capacity of 18,009. The crowd was mostly Vietnamese fans, but it was the Portuguese contingent that made all the noise.
Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy was the lone bright spot for Vietnam. The right winger looked threatening the few times the Golden Star Women Warriors found themselves on the attack but couldn’t produce a goal.
In its second Women’s World Cup match, Portugal got its very first Women’s World Cup goal.
It stemmed from a dazzling sequence that moved Portuguese players into the final third of the pitch with time and space. Alves teed up Encarnacao with an inch-perfect cross, and the forward easily delivered the goal.
WHY IT MATTERS
With its first-ever Women’s World Cup win, tournament newcomer Portugal stays in third place in Group E, just a point behind the United States and the Netherlands. To qualify for the round of 16, the Portuguese need a win or a draw, paired with a Netherlands loss, on the final matchday.
Vietnam is out of contention for the knockout rounds, and the Golden Star Women Warriors are still without a goal in their first Women’s World Cup.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“This is the most important goal, it was scored in a World Cup. This is history for Portugal. I’m incredibly proud,” said Encarnacao about her goal in the seventh minute.
“From this match, we can see where we are, where our level is,” Vietnam head coach Mai Duc Chung said of evaluating Vietnam's performance.
Portugal plays its next match in Auckland against the reigning world champion and group leader United States.
Vietnam, meanwhile, faces a daunting finish to its first tournament in Dunedin against the Netherlands.
Luke Vargas is a student in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State.
AP Women’s World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/fifa-womens-world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports