U.S. Beats Sweden 2-0 On Wambach Goals

Friday, September 14th 2007, 7:59 am
By: News On 6

CHENGDU, China (AP) _ Playing with a sore toe and 11 stitches in her head doesn't seem to bother Abby Wambach.

The top U.S. striker scored both goals Friday in a 2-0 victory over Sweden in the women's World Cup. She now has three in two games, and the win puts the No. 1-ranked Americans in good position to make the quarterfinals.

Wambach converted a penalty in the 34th, and scored a textbook goal in the 58th, settling a long ball on her chest from Kristine Lilly and then driving a 15-yard, left-footed shot past Sweden keeper Hedvig Lindahl.

Wambach has scored 80 goals in 98 games for the U.S. national team, which is seeking its third World Cup to go with titles in '91 and '99.

``We knew that this was potentially an elimination match with Sweden,'' American coach Greg Ryan said. ``Big players win championships, and you saw what happened here tonight.''

Wambach gave veteran Lilly most of the credit for the second goal, which would make a highlight film in any tournament.

``She saw me making a run, and she basically did all the rest,'' Wambach said. ``She put an amazing ball on my chest between the two defenders. I took a decent touch off my chest and was able to half-volley it.

``It's one of those goals as a forward where you say: 'Yeah I meant to put it exactly where it went in.' But in this type of situation I just hit as hard as I could an it went in.''

The victory is a boost for the Americans following an testing 2-2 draw with North Korea in it opening game of Group B, the toughest group of the 16-team tournament.

The Americans, who are undefeated in 48 games in 2 1/2 years under coach Greg Ryan, face Nigeria on Tuesday in Shanghai in the final Group B game. Sweden faces North Korea on Tuesday in Tianjin and needs a victory to have a shot of advancing.

The top two teams in the group advance to the quarterfinals.

The Americans have four points in two games. No. 3-ranked Sweden has one from a 1-1 draw with Nigeria and is in danger of missing the final eight.

After being pressed hard for much of the early game in southwestern China, the Americans took control after Wambach's penalty.

Defender Kate Markgraf started the first scoring play, sending in a long, soaring ball that was badly misjudged by Sweden keeper Lindahl, who allowed it to bounce over her head. Racing to put the loose ball home, American midfielder Lori Chalupny was taken down in the area by Swedish defender Stina Segerstrom.

The goal gave the Americans energy they lacked in the first 20 minutes when Sweden controlled play and had four corners in the first four minutes.

Just 14 seconds into the game, Sweden's top striker Hanna Ljungberg headed just wide of an open goal.

The Americans began to settle after 20 minutes. Defender Cat Whitehill sailed a long shot that Lindahl jumped to tip over the bar in the 21st. In the 22nd, Lilly rifled in another long ball that Lindahl scrambled to stop.

Wambach, Chalupny and Carli Lloyd tested Lindahl as the Americans began to control more possession and play with more aggression.

Striker Victoria Svensson was Sweden's biggest threat in the first half. In 29th she shot just over the crossbar, and in the 32nd her free kick sailed just high.

Wambach's second-half goal seemed to deflate Sweden, who could find no answer and saw a streak of 14 consecutive scoring games in the World Cup end.

Svensson was the most troubling player in the second half, too. In the 79th, the American keeper leaped to bat her long shot over the crossbar, and moments later Ljungberg missed from close range in one of Sweden's last gasps to get back into the game.

The United States opened with two changes from opening draw with North Korea. Leslie Osborne came in for Shannon Boxx in the holding midfield position, and Lindsay Tarpley replaced Heather O'Reilly at forward.