The United States' women's football team has defeated Sweden, 2-0, in a crucial first round Women's World Cup game in China. VOA's Jim Stevenson watched the game in Chengdu, where the Americans put themselves in position to advance to the quarterfinals from Group-B.
Prolific scoring forward Abby Wambach found the net twice for Team USA on Friday. Wambach converted a penalty kick in the first half. She added her third goal of the tournament, and the 80th of her career, in the second half.
Lori Chalupny was taken down on a sliding tackle from behind as she tried to turn toward the Swedish goal for a shot. That resulted in a penalty kick that Wambach easily converted in the 34th minute.
U.S. veteran Kristine Lilly, who has appeared in every Women's World Cup since 1991, had several chances to score. But it was her pass in the 58th minute that split two defenders to set up Wambach's second goal.
"You know, it is one of those goals that, as a forward, you say 'yeah, I meant to put it exactly where it went.' But, in this type of situation, I just hit it as hard as I could. And it went in," she said.
U.S. head coach Greg Ryan was not surprised to get a great performance from his top players in a critical game.
"We knew this was a potentially elimination match with Sweden," he said. "Big players win championships. And we saw what Abby did tonight, played great. Lilly, great. And then I thought a very good performance from all of our players."
The win puts the United States at the top of Group-B with four points along with North Korea, which defeated Nigeria, 2-0. Sweden, the 2003 World Cup runner-up, has just one point after two matches, and is in danger of failing to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time. Nigeria also has one point.
The United States finishes the first round on Tuesday against Nigeria, while Sweden plays North Korea.
Also Friday, in Shanghai, Japan defeated Argentina, 1-0. England held defending champion Germany to a scoreless (0-0) draw. The results mean Germany and Japan top Group-A with four points each.