(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Carli Lloyd became the first player to score in six consecutive women's World Cup matches as the United States brushed aside Chile 3-0 yesterday to secure their passage to the last 16. The winning margin might not have been near to their record-breaking 13-0 hammering of Thailand in their opening Group F game, but this was still an extremely one-sided victory for the holders in Paris.
Lloyd netted twice in the first half either side of a Julie Ertz goal, as the USA joined Sweden — who beat Thailand 5-1 earlier — in qualifying for the knockout phase from Group F. Their goal difference is such that a draw when they face the Swedes in Le Havre on Thursday will see them advance in first place, which increases the chances of a heavyweight quarter-final showdown back in Paris with hosts France.
Hat-trick hero in the 2015 final win over Japan, Lloyd squandered the chance to get a third goal in this game as she missed a late penalty, but her double at the Parc des Princes still took her into the record books.
The 36-year-old has now overtaken the mark of Birgit Prinz, the German who found the net at five consecutive matches at the 2003 World Cup.
Lloyd ha d not been pleased about being used as a substitute against Thailand, when she came on to score her team's last goal, but here she came in as one of seven changes made by coach Jill Ellis. Among those to drop out were Alex Morgan, scorer of five goals against the hapless Thais, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath, but the USA still put on a show to delight their fans, who made up the majority of the 45,594 crowd.
Lloyd had already hit the post before she opened the scoring in the 11th minute, volleying home first-time on her left foot after a headed clearance by Su Helen Gaez fell to her at the edge of the box. The second goal came in the 26th minute as Ertz met a corner from the right with a brilliant near-post header which Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler got a touch to but could not keep out.
The third goal soon followed in near identical fashion, with another right-wing corner, by Tierna Davidson, being headed home emphatically by Lloyd for her 113th international goal on her 276th appearance. Morgan, Rapinoe and Heath all remained on the bench as the USA pushed for more goals in the second half only to be denied time and time again by the brilliant Endler. The Paris Saint-Germain ‘keeper notably saved from Lindsey Horan and then topped that with her stop from a stunning Christen Press volley.
Substitute Jessica McDonald curled a shot off the post and a looping header by Lloyd beat Endler before dropping down onto the bar.
Perhaps unsettled by the quality of Endler, Lloyd then sent her penalty wide in the 81st minute after Yessenia Huenteo was adjudged to have pulled back Allie Long in the box following a VAR review. Chile are ranked 39th in the world, five places beneath Thailand, but with a goalkeeper as good as Endler, they will be confident of beating the Thais in their last group outing.
Earlier, Sweden cruised into the knockout stages after comfortably seeing off Thailand 5-1 to move top of Group F. Peter Gerhardsson's side had routine win that however saw emotional scenes when Kanjana Sung-Ngoen scored a late consolation goal for the Thais. Linda Sembrant and Kosovare Asllani put the Swedes two up after 19 minutes with Fridolina Rolfo rifling a long-range finish three minutes before the break. Lina Hurtig headed home at the end of a flowing move with nine minutes left before the Thais, reeling from a humiliating record 13-0 defeat to the Americans in their opening match, restored pride through captain Sung-Ngoen's drilled near post finish.
The goal sparked wild celebrations and even tears from the Thai players and coaching staff, but VAR stepped in to dampen their mood when Natthakarn Chinwong was judged to have handled in the area deep into stoppage time.
Elin Rubensson made no mistake from the spot to complete an easy win and her side's qualification from the group. 'This goal meant a lot to us, Thai coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian said.
'It's a difficult goal and playing a great team like Sweden, it meant so much. It meant that all of our preparation paid off. This one goal made us laugh, made us smile and makes us happy. Our defeat in the last game was massive yes, we were disappointed. But we still need to improve and get close to the other super teams.