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WWC LIVE: Minnows left heartbroken as VAR spares England’s penalty blushes

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England hold a 1-0 lead over Haiti after a dramatic opening 30 minutes in their Group D clash at the Women’s World Cup.

Georgia Stanway’s goal from the spot is all that separates the two sides, although she could count herself lucky to be on the scoresheet.

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The penalty was awarded when the ball struck Haiti’s Batcheba Louis’ hand after she hoisted it above her head when going up for a header off an England corner.

Louis’ handball was initially missed by the referee, but she was left with no choice but to award a penalty after consulting VAR.

Yet Stanway’s first attempt from the spot was superbly saved by Haiti goalkeeper Kerly Theus.

Unfortunately for Haiti, the referee re-awarded the penalty after Theus was found to have come off her line before Stanway had struck the ball.

Stanway would make no such mistake the second time around, giving England the lead in the 30th minute.

It also continued the bonkers streak of a penalty being awarded in every game at this year’s Women’s World Cup to date.

Georgia Stanway converted her second attempt from the penalty spot. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Georgia Stanway converted her second attempt from the penalty spot. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

FORMER CHAMPS FIRE MAJOR WARNING IN 12-YEAR FIRST

Hinata Miyazawa scored twice as former champions Japan smashed Women’s World Cup newcomers Zambia 5-0 in a rampant start to their campaign on Saturday.

Japan were a class above the 77th-ranked Africans, creating a slew of chances with their sharp movement and passing in a performance that will have the tournament heavyweights on alert.

Three of the goals came through sweeping upfield movements as Japan scored more than twice in a World Cup game for the first time since the 2011 tournament in Germany, when they lifted the title.

Midfielder Miyazawa bagged her first midway through the first half from an Aoba Fujino assist to put the Nadeshiko a goal up at the break.

Mina Tanaka doubled the lead from Jun Endo’s cross, bringing some relief to the forward, who found the net twice earlier in the match, only to have both strikes ruled out by belated offside rulings.

Tanaka turned provider for Miyazawa’s second goal and Endo drilled home the fourth in front of a crowd of 16,111 in Hamilton.

Japan cruised to victory over tournament debutants Zambia. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP)Source: AFP

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Substitute Riko Ueki scored the final goal from the penalty spot after she was brought down by goalkeeper Catherine Musonda in the final minute of stoppage time.

It resulted in a second yellow card for Musonda, whose replacement Eunice Sakala made a spectacular save from the spot but was ruled to have moved too early.

Ueki made no mistake with her second attempt as Japan moved to the top of Group C ahead of Spain, who beat Costa Rica 3-0 in Wellington on Friday.

A youthful Zambian side entered the tournament with high hopes after beating Germany in their final warmup game.

However, the lowest-ranked side at the 32-team tournament didn’t create a single clear chance, capping a miserable week in which key attacking midfielder Grace Chanda was ruled out of the tournament with illness.

DEFENDING CHAMPS KEEP ABSURD STREAK ALIVE AS RIVALS SLIP TO HORROR 12-YEAR FIRST

Sophia Smith scored twice and set up another as a new-look United States launched their bid to win a third Women’s World Cup in a row with a 3-0 victory over Vietnam on Saturday.

One of six members of the USA starting line-up making her World Cup debut, lively forward Smith finished a fine move to open the scoring in the 14th minute at Eden Park in Auckland.

Veteran Alex Morgan was then denied from the penalty spot before Smith struck again deep in stoppage time at the end of the first half in front of a crowd of just over 41,000.

She then set up the third goal for captain Lindsey Horan in the 77th minute, after veteran icon Megan Rapinoe had come off the bench to win her 200th cap.

Sophia Smith celebrates after scoring for the USWNT against Vietnam. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Vlatko Andonovski’s title favourites missed a hatful of chances as debutants Vietnam avoided the humiliation that befell Thailand at the 2019 World Cup, when they were thrashed 13-0 by the United States.

There is clearly room for improvement for an American side who will also play Portugal and 2019 runners-up the Netherlands in Group E, as they aim to win an unprecedented third consecutive title.

They also limited Vietnam to no shots or even a single touch inside the opposition box, meaning the Asian nation was the first to achieve the feat, if you can call it that, since at least 2011.

Right-back Emily Fox, centre-back Naomi Girma, and midfielders Andi Sullivan and Savannah DeMelo also made their first World Cup appearances.

Rodman, the daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman, needed lengthy treatment after suffering a knock inside the first minute before going on to have an impact on proceedings.

It was Smith who got the breakthrough though, controlling and finishing off a fine move expertly after Morgan flicked on a pass by Horan.

It was one-way traffic but it remained 1-0 until Rodman was clipped by Hoang Thi Loan in the area just before the break and the Moroccan referee gave a penalty after coming over to review the images.

Yet Morgan, playing in her 19th World Cup match, saw her poor kick saved by goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh diving to the right.

It continued the absurd streak of every game at the World Cup featuring a penalty, with two scored and four missed.

Instead Smith made it 2-0 towards the end of eight added minutes in the first half, firing through the legs of the goalkeeper and in after a Girma cross had been punched away.

The goal was initially ruled out before being given after another lengthy check confirmed there was no offside.

Teenager Alyssa Thompson also came on for her World Cup bow just before Smith pounced on a Julie Ertz ball forward and supplied a cutback for Lyon midfielder Horan to score.

FULL RESULTS FROM DAY 3

United States 3-0 Vietnam

Zambia 0-5 Japan

England v Haiti (7:30pm kick-off AEST)

Denmark v China (10pm kick-off AEST)

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