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Women's World Cup: U.S. held by Netherlands, Nigeria stun Australia

SYDNEY, July 27 (Xinhua) -- FIFA Women's World Cup defending champions United States were held by the Netherlands 1-1 in Group E, while Nigeria stunned Australia 3-2 and Portugal beat Vietnam 2-0 on Thursday.

Two-time defending champions U.S. needed a second-half equalizer to avoid defeat in a far tougher contest than their 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the final four years ago.

"Even though it didn't finish the way we wanted (it) to finish I thought it was a good match for our team," U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said.

"What you saw in the second-half is what you're going to see going forward as a baseline."

The U.S. were staring down the barrel of their first loss in the tournament since 2011 when Dutch midfielder Jill Roord fired home in the 17th minute.

In front of 27,312 fans in Wellington, the Netherlands controlled the early exchanges and the U.S. went in at half-time trailing in a World Cup match for the first time in 12 years.

But the U.S. came out with more intent in the second-half and were rewarded when co-captain Lindsey Horan equalized from a header off a corner kick in the 62nd minute.

With their confidence restored, the Americans peppered the goal relentlessly and striker Alex Morgan thought she had the winner after finding the back of the net only to be ruled off-side.

A thumping strike from Sophia Smith was denied on the goal-line as the Netherlands hung on to share the points.

"We performed brilliantly and at times it was really fantastic... you have to be happy with 1-1," Netherlands coach Andries Jonker said.

"These games are battles from the first second to the last. The only thing you can say is that women's football has evolved incredibly."

Both the U.S. and the Netherlands have four points with Portugal breathing down their necks with three points after comfortably beating fellow debutants Vietnam in Hamilton.

Goals from Telma Encarnacao and Kika Nazareth in the first half gave Portugal a stranglehold and they never relented to record their first-ever World Cup victory.

The result means Vietnam is out of the tournament.

In the late fixture, Nigeria shocked co-host Australia in Brisbane to record their first victory in the 2023 World Cup.

Nigeria ran Australia ragged after conceding the opening goal and seemingly iced the game when Asisat Oshoala scored from a tight angle in the 72nd minute.

Alanna Kennedy's header in the dying minutes gave the Matildas hope, but it wasn't enough as Nigeria celebrated a famous victory.

The result means Nigeria is locked on four points with Canada in Pool B. Australia are on three points and face a must-win match against Canada on July 31 in Melbourne.

"We had so many chances but it was one of those nights we couldn't get the ball in the back of the net," said Australia midfielder Emily van Egmond, who scored the game's first goal shortly before half-time.

"The last five to ten minutes showed our never-say-die attitude and we'll take that into the next game which is a must-win."