The United States held on by a thread to keep its Women’s World Cup title defence alive on Tuesday, stumbling into the knockout stages with a 0-0 draw against debutant Portugal at Eden Park.
The four-times champion was playing with everything on the line but spurned several chances to find the net and the addition of veteran Megan Rapinoe in the second half did little to turn things around against a physical Portugal defence.
It survived a huge scare in stoppage time when Ana Capeta hit the post and another fright when Capeta won a free kick just outside the box a few minutes later but held on through the nerve-searing final minutes of the affair.
The United States moves on to the last 16 in Melbourne, where it will almost certainly face Sweden, after finishing in second place in Group E behind Netherlands.
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