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USWNT U-20s ousted from World Cup in group stage

The United States failed to advance from the group stage of the U-20 Women’s World Cup for the first time after a 2-2 draw with Spain on Monday in Léhon, France.

With Japan’s victory over Paraguay in the simultaneous Group C match, the U.S. needed a victory over Spain to stay alive — and set up a three-way tie atop the group on 6 points — in addition to favorable goal differential — which it would have had over Spain with a win. A late two-goal rally from the Americans wasn’t enough.

Spain scored twice in the first half off a pair of errors from the Americans. First came Jaelin Howell’s mis-clearance inside her own 18-yard box, which gave the ball to Spain’s Patricia Guijarro for the opening tally in the sixth minute.

Minutes before halftime, Spain had their second goal after U.S. goalkeeper Laurel Ivory saw Lucía García’s close-range shot spill straight through her hands.

The U.S. turned on the pressure late, scoring twice in a four-minute span and pinning Spain back for the final 10 minutes of the match. Sophia Smith scored directly off a beautiful free kick in the 83rd minute, and Savannah DeMelo’s 87th-minute shot took a kind deflection to wrong-foot Spanish goalkeeper Catalina Coll.

But the Americans couldn’t find a third goal, and the 2-2 final meant they had to settle for third in the group. Reigning U-19 European champions Spain went through atop the group on 7 points, while Japan — which beat the U.S. in the 2016 U-20 third-place match — finished second on 6 points.

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