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FOOTBALL: Heath’s goal stands up for a 1-0 win as England takes the SheBelieves Cup

After two unhappy draws against Japan and England, the U.S. women’s national team managed a 1-0 victory over Brazil in the final game of the SheBelieves Cup tournament at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida

The U.S. was intense from the start and almost scored in the first minute. Brazil defender Thaisa fouled Mallory Pugh from behind in the middle of the box, as Pugh was trying to get to a cross in front of goal from Tobin Heath. But there was no call.

Megan Rapinoe scored in the 13th minute off a slick pass from Heath, but Rapinoe was barely offsides and the goal was waved off.

The U.S. finally got the lead in the 20th minute, as Heath ran through the midfield and passed to an open Alex Morgan on the left side for a shot. Morgan’s left-footed shot was saved by Brazilian keeper Aline Reis, but she couldn’t control the rebound. The ball bounded back out to the top of the box and Heath sent a left-footed laser from the top of the box for a 1-0 lead. It was Heath’s 27th international goal, and a 1-0 U.S. lead.

The U.S. had the better of the play in the second half, creating multiple chances and lots of pressure, but no goals. The game was physical, but never out of control.

The game was nearly tied in the 75th minute, as Brazilian icon Marta lifted the ball toward the middle of the goal mouth and Ludmila split two American defenders for a header that was caught by keeper Ashlyn Harris.

The U.S. offense once again did not perform at the level it showed at the end of 2018, but the defense was much better for most of the game. But it was a win and gave the U.S. women a 2-1-2 record in 2019. And Harris got the second shutout for the Americans this season.

England won the opening game of the doubleheader with a 3-0 win over Japan, thanks to first-half goals from Lucy Staniforth in the 12th minute, Karen Carney (23rd) and Beth Mead (30th). That gave the Lionesses seven points off a 2-0-1 record. The final standings:

1. 7: England (2-0-1)
2. 5: United States (1-0-2)
3. 4: Japan (1-1-1)
4. 0: Brazil (0-3-0)

The U.S. women are off for a month now; the next match will tell a lot, a friendly vs. Australia – a team which has given the U.S. fits – on 4 April in Commerce City, Colorado.

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