(NBC Olympics) — The United States women’s soccer team officially overcame its tournament-opening stumble to clinch a spot in the knockout rounds with a 0-0 draw with on Tuesday.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s team finishes second in Group G, the first runner-up finish in an Olympic group since 1996, and will meet the winner of Group F, likely either Netherlands or Brazil, in the quarterfinals.
The U.S. fell to Sweden 3-0 on the opening day of its Olympics, ending a 44-match unbeaten run, but rebounded to beat New Zealand 6-1 before an admittedly sleepy stalemate with Australia.
Alex Morgan held off a strong challenge to meet a picture-perfect pass from Rose Lavelle, but the Orlando Pride star’s shot was right to Australia goalkeeper Teagan Micah.
Australia forced a decent save out of Alyssa Naeher as the match neared the midpoint of the first half, the U.S. no closer to opening the scoring in Japan.
Morgan planted a terrific header home off a Kelley O’Hara cross in the 31st minute, but the assistant referee’s flag meant that Video Assistant Referee would have to find a clear and obvious error in the razor-thin offside call. It did not.
Megan Rapinoe was shown a yellow card for a foul and then post-whistle kick of the ball in the 38th minute.
Morgan then sent Christen Press into the box but the former Manchester United striker took herself out-of-position for a dangerous shot with a wayward first touch. That sent the match to halftime at 0-0.
O’Hara’s dangerous dribble into the right of the box then saw an inviting cutback pass miss three suitors and instead was blazed over the bar by Morgan, as the sharpness continued to evade the Americans.