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USA eye big World Cup win in group-stage finale against Portugal

Women’s World Cup holders the United States are hoping to rack up the goals when they play Portugal on Tuesday with the aim of reaching the last 16 as group winners.

A 1-1 draw with the Netherlands on Thursday in a repeat of the 2019 final left the two teams locked on four points in Group E.

The USA are top though thanks to a difference of two goals, but the danger remains that they will live to regret only beating minnows Vietnam 3-0 in their opening game at the tournament.

A big win for the Dutch against already eliminated Vietnam  would give them a chance of leapfrogging the defending champions.

It would be the biggest shock in the history of the competition, but a win for debutants Portugal would take them through and leave the USA facing an unthinkable elimination.

“We are going to need to play fast and score a lot of goals and we also just want that for ourselves regardless of the game and the situation,” US midfielder Andi Sullivan told reporters in Auckland on Saturday.

“We know our first two performances have been solid but we know we have more to give, especially in putting goals up,” she added.

“That conversation has kind of been bubbling just because we expect that high standard from ourselves.”

Finishing in second place would expose the USA to a tougher tie in the last 16, quite possibly against the world’s third-ranked side Sweden.

It could also leave them facing a harder path to the final later on in the knockout rounds.

The Portuguese are appearing at their first Women’s World Cup and followed up a 1-0 defeat against the Netherlands by beating Vietnam 2-0.

The meeting with the US will be a special occasion for American midfielder Savannah DeMelo, who had never been capped before coming to the World Cup.

DeMelo’s father is from Portugal and she will hope to keep her place in the line-up, although she is competing for a starting berth with Rose Lavelle.

Lavelle spurred the USA’s comeback against the Dutch after replacing DeMelo at half-time.

“I am a dual citizen so I always had the option, but growing up in the US it was always a dream for me to play for the US national team,” the 25-year-old DeMelo said when asked if she had considered representing Portugal instead.

“It could have been an option but my heart was always with the US.”

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