WELLINGTON: United States' Captain Lindsey Horan scored a second-half equaliser as the holders came from behind to draw 1-1 with the Netherlands at the Women's World Cup on Thursday in a rematch of the 2019 final.
Midfielder Jill Roord fired home a first-half opener to threaten a momentous result in the Group E clash in Wellington in front of a crowd of 27,312.
But Horan responded just after the hour as the Americans maintained their proud unbeaten record at the World Cup stretching back to the 2011 final when they were beaten on penalties by Japan.
The stalemate leaves the two teams locked on four points and neither is yet assured of a berth in the knockout phase heading into their final group games on Tuesday when the US face Portugal and the Dutch play Vietnam.
Horan's 62nd-minute equaliser from substitute Rose Lavelle's corner came moments after a flashpoint between US midfielder Horan and her Lyon teammate Danielle van de Donk.
"I respect her so much because that's how it should be, competitive at all times," Horan said.
"Once we got to that tackle, all I wanted to do was score. Heat of the moment, but Rose put in an absolute dime and I got on the end of it," she added.
US coach Vlatko Andonovski described Horan's response to the altercation as a turning point.
"It's a really good example of the leader that she is. She gets fouled, kicked, hurt and obviously it's a very difficult moment," Andonovski said.
He said, "And instead of crying about it, she just goes and makes a statement. It shows everyone the direction that the game is going to take."
The most highly anticipated game of the tournament group phase was vastly different to the decider four years ago in France, which the US won comfortably 2-0 to retain their title.
This time the Dutch had the better of the first half, finding chinks which were also evident in the United States' opening 3-0 win over minnows Vietnam.
The Americans recovered to dominate the final stages but couldn't find a winner and this was a patchy performance which ends a string of 13 successive World Cup match wins and casts some doubt on their status as favourites to lift the trophy again.
Andonovski said that the Dutch were given too much leeway to control the tempo in the first half.
He said that changed in the second spell and believed his team's increased assertiveness provides a template for the rest of the tournament.
"This team is not just young, this is also a fresh team that hasn't spent a lot of minutes together," he said of a squad which features veterans such as Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan mixed with 14 World Cup newcomers.
"What you saw in the second half is what you're going to see going forward as a baseline. In game three we expect to grow from there," he added
Having opened with a 1-0 win over Portugal, the ninth-ranked Dutch looked like repeating that result when Roord struck smartly in the 17th minute.
The new Manchester City signing, who came off the bench in the Lyon final four years ago, finished with a low drive from the edge of the box to silence thousands of travelling US supporters.
However, following Horan's goal, the resurgent US twice came close to unearthing a winner.
Striker Morgan found the net only for the offside flag to cut short her celebrations and a bullet strike from Sophia Smith was kept out by a goal-line clearance from Lieke Martens.
Netherlands coach Andries Jonker was content with a point given the late pressure heaped on his team.
"We performed brilliantly and at times it was really fantastic... you have to be happy with 1-1," he said.
"These games are battles from the first second to the last. The only thing you can say is that women's football has evolved incredibly. We're there, along with the US, and I'm very satisfied with that," he concluded.