Lindsey Horan celebrates her goal in front of the Sweden fans. (Michael Chow/USA Today Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

LE HAVRE, France — As expected, the United States got the stiffest challenge and test in the group stage of the Women’s World Cup Thursday.

The Americans survived it with a solid 2-0 victory before a crowd of 22,418 at Stade Oceane.

For the fourth time in eight World Cups, the USA (3-0-0, 9 points) ran the table in the group stage, winning all three of its matches. In fact, the Red, White and Blue continued its outstanding opening-round record with a 20-1-3 mark.

The defending world champions will meet Spain in a Round of 16 games in Reims June 24, where the squad opened the tournament with a 16-0 win over Thailand. Sweden (2-1-0, 6) will meet host France in Paris the same day.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher recorded her third clean sheet in as many matches as she was tested for the first time in the tournament, especially when she saved Stina Blacksteinus’s close-range attempt in the 51st minute.

The Americans, who have outscored their opponents, 18-0, did not waste time in taking the lead. Off a Megan Rapinoe corner kick only three minutes after kickoff, midfielder Lindsey Horan slipped home a close-range shot past goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl for a 1-0 edge for the quickest goal of the competition.

They doubled their lead in the 50th minute when Tobin Heath drilled a shot from a difficult angle from the right side off Sweden defender Jonna Andersson and into the net. It took several minutes for the Video Assistant Referee to determine whether halftime substitute Carli Lloyd was offside on the play. She wasn’t and the goal stood.

Julie Ertz, who started the first two matches at center back and holding midfielder, was held out of this game due to a contusion as a precautionary measure.