The United States has defeated Nigeria, 1-0, to reach the quarterfinal round of the Women's World Cup football tournament in China. VOA's Jim Stevenson was at the game in Shanghai, where the Americans dominated in a soggy and sparsely filled stadium.
As bands of rain periodically drenched the field from the approach of typhoon Wipha, the U.S. women stormed to a quick lead against Nigeria in the opening minute. Midfielder Lori Chalupny easily chipped in a loose ball in front of the goal.
For the rest of the game, the U.S. women worked to preserve the lead. While the tactic was successful, U.S. coach Greg Ryan felt his team could have performed at a higher level.
"We could have played better possession tonight," he said "I felt like we gave the ball away too easily. We played passes too strong in the wet conditions, [the ball went] too far in front of players in the first half. I thought [in the] second half, maybe we settled down and played a little bit better together."
Because of heavy rain, both teams had to run amid chunks of loose sod. And the weather kept attendance low, as 6,100 fans - including many vocal Americans - braved the rain.
In the other Group-B game in Tianjin, Charlotta Schelin gave Sweden an early lead over North Korea in the fourth minute. Ri Un Suk equalized the game in the 22nd minute before Schelin's 54th minute score gave the Swedes a 2-1 victory. But with identical records, North Korea advanced on goal differential.
The result means the United States wins Group-B with two wins and one draw. The Americans will face Group-A runner-up England in Tianjin on Saturday. North Korea placed second in Group-B and next plays defending champion Germany in Wuhan, also Saturday.
Meanwhile, the approaching typhoon has prompted world football officials to move a Group-C game. Norway and Ghana will now play on Thursday in Hangzhou. The final Group-D match between Brazil and Denmark will be pushed back one day, and become the second game Thursday in Hangzhou.
The other Group-C and D matches, Australia-Canada and China-New Zealand respectively, will be held as scheduled Wednesday. The change creates an unusual advantage for the teams playing Thursday, as they will know before they step onto the field what result they need to reach the next round.
The 16-nation Women's World Cup concludes September 30 in Shanghai.