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Women’s World Cup: Toothless United States squeeze into the knockout stage, England fire warning shot to other title hopefuls

Despite a scoreless draw against Women’s World Cup debutants Portugal on Tuesday, the United States have reached the knockout stage as Group E runners-up.

The reigning world champions delivered another disheartening performance, managing just four shots on target in an uneventful contest at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Following an emphatic 3-0 win over Group E minnows Vietnam in their curtain-raising fixture, the Stars and Stripes have played out back-to-back draws in a disappointing group-stage campaign.

While a 1-1 stalemate against the Netherlands on matchday two could be considered a minor setback, Vlatko Andonovski’s ladies won’t be proud of today’s performance against Portugal.

Seeking their third consecutive Women’s World Cup title, the US must improve after producing their first scoreless outing in the tournament’s group phase since 2015.

Unlike the mighty US, last tournament’s beaten finalists Netherlands strolled to a morale-boosting 7-0 win over Vietnam in the other Group E fixture to progress from the top spot.

Andries Jonker’s troops have maintained a 100% qualification ratio at the Women’s World Cup with a record-breaking triumph inspired by a jaw-dropping 5-0 lead at half-time.

Manchester City midfielder Jill Roord soaked up the limelight as the Oranje’s headline performer at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, scoring in both halves to take his tournament tally to three goals.

Speaking of top-class showings, Chelsea forward Lauren James was the star of the show as England eased past China 6-1 in their final Group D game to keep their flawless tournament record intact.

James kicked things off at Adelaide’s Cooper Stadium with an early assist as new Arsenal striker Alessia Russo broke the deadlock in the fourth minute, setting the tone for England’s best performance this summer.

Man City’s Lauren Hemp doubled the Lionesses’ lead in the 26th minute on another assist from James, who took matters into her own hands on the stroke of half-time to put Serina Wiegman’s side into a comfortable 3-0 lead at the break.

China pulled one back through Wang Shuang’s penalty in the 57th minute, only to see James restore England’s three-goal cushion with a sublime first-time finish eight minutes later.

Second-half substitute Chloe Kelly made it 5-1 in the 77th minute before Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly set the final score that should bolster England’s confidence after a brace of narrow 1-0 wins in the opening two rounds.

Denmark will keep the Lionesses company in the knockout stage after a 2-0 victory over rock-bottom Haiti handed them a runner-up finish in their first Women’s World Cup appearance since 2007.

Goals from Pernille Harder and Sanne Troelsgaard on either side of half-time fired them into the tournament’s last-16 for the first time since 1995.

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