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United States' Sophia Smith (11) and Vietnam's goalkeeper Thi Kim Thanh Tran (14) shake hands after the Women's World Cup Group E soccer match between the United States and Vietnam at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand on July 22.The Associated Press

Left bruised, bandaged and limping, the Vietnamese still managed to walk off the pitch smiling.

Entering its World Cup opening match Saturday against the United States, Vietnam was expected to suffer a defeat similar to the 2019 Thailand team, which lost to the Americans 13-0 to open that tournament.

After all, the top-ranked United States has won four World Cup titles and Vietnam was making its tournament debut. But in a match where Vietnam failed to get off a shot, its defensive intensity kept it in the game.

Final score: United States 3, Vietnam 0.

“I think that’s the point of Vietnam is to frustrate us, is to make it hard for us to break them down,” American forward Alex Morgan said after the game. “I think there were ebbs and flows of the game that were frustrating at times, but I think that at the end of the day, we just have to capitalize on the chances that we get.”

The Vietnamese were “tough in tackles,” U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski said, but the Americans also did not make it any easier for themselves.

The United States dominated the stat sheet, outshooting Vietnam 27-0, but only eight American attempts were on target despite 24 attempts occurring in the penalty area, including Morgan’s missed penalty kick in the first half.

That may have been Vietnam’s best moment.

In the 44th minute, Morgan stepped up to the penalty spot with the United States only leading 1-0. Morgan aimed for the bottom left corner but was denied by Vietnamese goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh.

The rebound attempt trickled wide, sending the Vietnamese players into a frenzy as they swarmed Tran to celebrate.

“I wouldn’t say that I expected more goals, but with the way that we played and the opportunities that we created, I sure wanted to see more goals and I thought that we deserved to score more goals,” Andonovski said.

For many United States’ players, the match was their World Cup debut, including player of the match Sophia Smith. It was also the first time that the United States’ starting 11 played together at the same time.

“I want to say that I expected it and I’m happy with the way they played. They met my expectations,” Andonovski said. “Now, I do also believe that going into game two, they will go a little more encouraged, less noise, no stress.”

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