June 16, 2015
TOP OF THE HEAP
USA women win Group D with 1-0 win over Nigeria, reach knockout round
VANCOUVER -- The United States booked a spot in the knockout round of the Women's World Cup and won Group D as well, recording a 1-0 win over shorthanded Nigeria in B.C. Place on Tuesday night.
|Abby Wambach scored her 14th goal in the Women's World Cup.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Abby Wambach scored the lone goal in the match late in the first half and goalkeeper Hope Solo recorded her second consecutive shutout.
The Americans (2-1-0) are assured of playing a third-place team from Group B, E or F. That won't be determined until the final set of group matches are played on Wednesday night.
Nigeria was forced to play the final 21 minutes a player down after Sarah Nnodim accrued her second yellow card of the match in the 69th minute after a hard tackle on Sydney Leroux.
USA head coach Jill Ellis made three changes in her Starting XI, placing striker Alex Morgan alongside her long-time scoring partner, Abby Wambach, who started the scoreless draw with Sweden on the bench. Ellis also replaced Christen Press, who tallied the game-winner in the 3-1 victory over Australia in the opener, in favor of Tobin Heath.
The USA applied pressure on the Nigerians from the opening kickoff, from the flow of play and set pieces, but could not solve their foes for virtually the entire opening half.
Center back Julie Johnston deposited the ball into the back of the net in the seventh minute, but she was ruled to be offside.
Nigerian goalkeeper Precious Dede blocked a shot from distance from midfielder Megan Rapinoe in the 17th minute as the loose ball went out of bounds. The Americans could not do anything on the ensuing corner kick as Wambach mistimed her jump on Rapinoe's service.
The Nigerians, who have thrived on the through ball and counterattack, almost drew first blood in the 25th minute. Running onto a pass, Asisat Oshoala's shot was deflected out of bounds by Johnston, who saved a sure goal.
Wambach finally ended a team scoring drought of 147 minutes, on the USA's sixth and final corner kick of the half. She tallied on a close-range volley at the far left post off Rapinoe's corner kick in the 45th minute. It was Wambach's 183rd goal of her international career and 14th over four Women's World Cups.
Morgan almost doubled the Americans' lead in the 48th minute as she went in one-on-one on Dede as the keeper managed to extend herself to block the shot.
Dede denied Morgan in the 64th minute after the forward gathered in a right-wing feed from Ali Krieger as she stopped her on the right side of the area.
Veteran defender Christie Rampone, who will turn 40 on June 24, participated in her fifth World Cup when she replaced Heath in the 80th minute.