Lloyd’s hat trick leads US team past Panama
Carli Lloyd scored three goals and the United States beat Panama 5-0 on Sunday in the group stage of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament.
Christen Press added a goal and two assists for the U.S. team, which led 4-0 at halftime.
The United States struck for three goals in a span of less than 10 minutes midway through the first half to break it open.
Lloyd, who had her eighth international hat trick, scored twice during that stretch. Among her goals was a highlight-worthy effort in the 29th minute in which she eluded three defenders while working her way from left to right in the penalty area.
The score would have been even more lopsided if not for several acrobatic saves by 17-year-old Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey.
The United States’ starting lineup was different by nine players from the group that began the team’s 6-0 tournament-opening win over Mexico on Thursday night. Only defender Abby Dahlkemper and midfielder Julie Ertz started again, with star forwards Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe among those absent from the starting 11.
The U.S team didn’t seem to miss them. The United States struck in the fifth minute when Samantha Mewis headed in a corner kick from Press, and the team applied relentless pressure for the rest of the half.
Panama, meanwhile, didn’t attempt its first shot until the 61st minute.
The United States improved to 2-0 in Group A play of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, an eight-team tournament that decides the region’s three spots in the World Cup next year in France. A fourth team will earn the right to a playoff against Argentina for a spot.
Ranked No. 1 in the world, the U.S. team plays Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday in the last of its three CONCACAF round-robin matches. The United States is the reigning World Cup champion, having beaten Japan in the final in 2015.
Panama entered the match tied with the United States atop Group A after a 3-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday. Panama will play Mexico on Wednesday.
The top two teams from Group A will advance to the CONCACAF semifinals in Frisco, Texas, with the top two finishers from Group B. Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba and Jamaica are playing in Group B in Edinburg, Texas.
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