Christen Press scored the lone goal in the USA victory. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
ALICANTE, Spain – The U.S. women’s national team defeated Spain, 1-0, in the first international meeting between the two teams thanks to a second-half goal created by a strong individual effort from halftime substitute Christen Press.
The victory came three days after the Americans’ distressing 3-1 loss at France Saturday.
The opening 45 minutes began with both teams pushing to impose their style on the match. But after a hard-charging opening 10 minutes from Spain, the U.S. began flexing its muscles, nearly taking the lead in the 14th minute.
A corner kick from the right wing was misjudged by Spain goalkeeper Sandra Paños and reached Megan Rapinoe on back left post. Her bicycle-kick attempt was pushed away by Paños as Julie Ertz crashed in, looking to get her head on the ball. The ball slipped just past Rose Lavelle, who couldn’t react in time to stab home the loose ball at the right post.
The U.S. held the upper hand for the remainder of the half, carving out its best chances via crosses into the box, but the breakthrough did not come until the second half.
That’s when U.S. head coach Jill Ellis introduced three substitutes, including Press, who fashioned the lone goal in the 54th minute. Receiving the ball at midfield, Press turned on one defender and sprinted toward the goal. She cruised past past another defender and dribbled into the left side of the penalty area before hitting a shot on the ground from a tight angle. The ball was rolling into the net before it was knocked home by Spain defender Irene Paredes.
From there, the U.S. looked the dominant team, creating numerous opportunities to extend its lead through Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh and Ertz.
A stout defensive performance buttressed by goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher’s superb performance closed out the win.
The USWNT returns to the U.S. for the beginning of the eight-game, home portion of Countdown to the Cup.
The opening match of the 2019 SheBelieves Cup vs. Japan is set for Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. on Feb. 27 (7 p.m. ET; FS1). The U.S. also will face England March 2 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. (4:30 p.m. ET; FOX) and Brazil March 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. (8 p.m. ET; FS1) during the SheBelieves Cup.