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 arm-wrestle of a match with limited goalscoring opportunities at either end at 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 leave the door for France or New Zealand to leapfrog to the summit.
As it panned out, France’s 2-0 win saw the pair level at the top only for USA to finish as group-winners on a Fair Play countback.
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 the ball onto 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 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.