FOOTBALL: Heath and Horan score early to key 3-0 win over Ireland in Victory Tour opener

U.S. star striker Carli Lloyd

There was plenty of celebrating and fireworks, and the U.S. women’s National Team began its five-game “Victory Tour” with a convincing 3-0 win over an outclassed Ireland at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

After playing almost the entire first 15 minutes close to the Irish goal, a Christen Press cross from the left side of goal sailed all the way across to the far post, where Tobin Heath headed the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.

Although there was no doubt of the outcome, the issue was decided in the 31st minute when Heath gathered three defenders on a dribble at the right side of the box, then popped the ball back into the middle to Sam Mewis. Her cross to the left post landed right at the foot of Lindsey Horan, who finished for a 2-0 lead.

In the 41st minute, Kelley O’Hara dribbled down the right side, then sent a ball into the far side of the box toward Carli Lloyd, who was well guarded by two defenders. But Lloyd rose above both and her header floated over everyone and landed gently in the net for a 3-0 lead at halftime. It was the 114th career goal for Lloyd, 37, for the U.S.

The second half passed without significant incident. Ireland had more impact, but the game was played mostly in their end.

The U.S. had a 29-2 edge in shots and is now 13-0 vs. Ireland all-time. Just as impressive as the U.S. control of the game was the enthusiastic crowd of 37,040 at the Rose Bowl.

The next games on the Tour are 29 August in Philadelphia and 3 September in St. Paul, Minnesota, both against Portugal.