USA were made to work overtime before earning a come-from-behind 1-1 draw against Ghana to ensure top spot in Group C.
It was a hard-fought match with limited goalscoring opportunities at either end in a blustery Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby.
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. A driving run was followed by a perfect low shot for Pugh’s second of the tournament.
Earlier, the lively Ashley Sanchez pushed a shot just inches wide of the post, and could also have netted midway through the second half after ghosting in behind the Ghana backline.
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.
Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Katie Cousins (USA)