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U.S. is tied by North Korea

September 12, 2007|From the Associated Press

Blood streaming from a gash on the top of her head, Abby Wambach came off the field. For 10 minutes, the United States played short-handed while she got stitches.

North Korea didn't waste its chance.

The United States allowed a pair of goals while Wambach was off the field -- one on a blunder by goalkeeper Hope Solo -- then rallied for a 2-2 tie Tuesday in its opener at the Women's World Cup in Chengdu, China.

"When they scored right away as I went off, I started to get worried," Wambach said. "So I started to run to the locker room to get stitches put in."

The top-ranked Americans, trying to regain the title they won in 1991 in China and in 1999 at home, extended their unbeaten streak to 47 games. But playing in Group B, considered the toughest of four groups, they put pressure on themselves heading into games against third-ranked Sweden on Friday and Nigeria next Tuesday.

Wambach, playing on a sore right toe she injured against Finland on Aug. 26, put the United States ahead in the 50th minute on a rainy night. She took a pass from Kristine Lilly on the right side of the penalty area and beat Jon Myong-hui with a 13-yard shot that the goalkeeper got her gloves on but failed to stop.

Five minutes later, Wambach was defending a cross when she collided with North Korea's Ri Kum Suk. Wambach fell to the ground, blood pouring from the back of her head onto her face and jersey.

U.S. Coach Greg Ryan decided not to replace Wambach, who has 78 goals in 97 games with the national team.

In the 58th minute, Kil Son-hui hit a twisting, long strike that slipped through Solo's hands, tying the score. Kim Yong-ae then pounced on a rebound in the 62nd minute and shot it past Solo, who didn't have a chance.

When the crowd of 35,100 screamed again, Wambach knew North Korea had taken a 2-1 lead. "I really had to hurry up the process," she said. "I was yelling at the doctors to get it done quicker. I cursed some bad words, and hurried up and got my jersey on and ran as fast as I could."

Wambach re-entered the game two minutes later, and the United States tied it in the 69th minute when Heather O'Reilly scored her 12th goal -- her first in the World Cup -- by taking a ball in the penalty area that couldn't be cleared and putting it into the roof of the goal.

Sweden 1, Nigeria 1 -- Cynthia Uwak's goal in the 82nd minute lifted Nigeria to a draw with Sweden in an opening game of Group B in Chengdu. Uwak pounced on a failed clearing attempt and her shot from 20 yards out beat goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.

Victoria Svensson scored for Sweden in the 50th minute.

England 2, Japan 2 -- A brilliant free kick by Aya Miyama with five seconds left gave Japan a draw with England in a Group A game in Shanghai. It was the second goal scored off a free kick by Miyama, and matched two impressive goals by England's Kelly Smith.

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