USA were made to work overtime before earning a come-from-behind 1-1 draw against Ghana’s Black Princesses to ensure top spot in Group C at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby.
The result meant that the Ghanaians ladies crashed out of the campaign, having earlier lost their opener 1-0 against New Zealand before drawing 2-2 with France in the second game.
USA commenced the day in top spot and needed only a draw to guarantee progression, but a point would have left the door open for France or New Zealand to leapfrog them at the summit.
As it panned out, France’s 2-0 win saw the pair level at the top on points and goals only for USA to finish as group-winners on Fair Play criteria, having picked up one fewer yellow card.
The goalscoring was compacted into two first-half minutes with Ghana breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes. Ernestina Abambila pushed a lobbed ball over the backline that seemed neither shot nor pass, but goalkeeper Casey Murphy could only fumble on to the frame of the goal and over the line.
However, USA captain and attacking focal point Mallory Pugh again displayed her class with a smart equaliser.
The best opening of the second half, however, fell to Ghana with seven minutes remaining, but Sandra Owusu-Ansah stabbed her close-range effort over from close range.