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U.S. clinches group with win

September 19, 2007|From the Associated Press

SHANGHAI -- Sliding feet first, Lori Chalupny scored 57 seconds into the game -- the second-fastest goal in the history of the Women's World Cup.

The goal came amid heavy rain and with a typhoon on the way, sending the United States past Nigeria, 1-0, Tuesday and into the quarterfinals against England.

Abby Wambach took a throw-in from Cat Whitehill and headed the ball to Chalupny. She settled it off her chest and chipped a short right-footed shot that deflected off a Nigerian player behind goalkeeper Precious Dede.

"It's a set piece we've been working on," Chalupny said. "Abby just got the perfect flick on it, kind of what we draw up in practice, and it just happened to bounce right to me. So I was able to get a touch on it and slide it away."

It was her fifth goal for the national team. The only quicker goal in tournament history was a 30-second score by Sweden's Lena Videkull in 1991.

The U.S., seeking another title to go with the ones from 1991 and '99, finished first in Group B -- the toughest of the tournament with three of the world's top five teams. Next up is England on Saturday in the northern city of Tianjin.

North Korea lost, 2-1, to Sweden in Tuesday's other Group B game but still advanced to face defending champion Germany on Saturday in the central city of Wuhan. The final is Sept. 30 in Shanghai.

Four other teams will qualify today and Thursday in Groups C and D. Norway, Australia, Brazil and China are the favorites.

The Americans topped their group with seven points. North Korea and Sweden, the runner-up in 2003, had four, but the Asians advanced on goal difference.

"We hope to get better and better as the tournament progresses," Chalupny said. "But to get out of a group like this in first place is an amazing achievement."

The Americans extended their undefeated streak to 50 games.

But, as with the scrambling 2-2 tie with North Korea and 2-0 victory over Sweden, the Americans were tested.

"I thought except for a slight mistake in the first half -- in the first minute of the game -- I think it could have been another story," Nigeria Coach Effiom Ntiero said.

The early goal was critical on a stormy night. Typhoon Wipha was scheduled to make landfall in eastern China hours after the game.

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