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Sept. 18, 2007
U.S. edges Nigeria, 1-0, will meet England in WWC quarterfinals Saturday

The United States celebrates its winning goal against Nigeria.
The United States celebrates its winning goal against Nigeria.
Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon SMI
Shanghai, China -- The results couldn't have worked out any better for the United States.

Not only did the Americans qualify for the quarterfinals at the Women's World Cup Tuesday, they avoided defending world champion Germany in the process.

The U.S. accomplished that feat by clinching the Group B title with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria in a rain-soaked match.

Coupled with Sweden's 2-1 surprising victory over North Korea (1-1-1, four points) in a game played at the same time in Tianjin, the U.S. (2-0-1, seven points) will play England, which finished as the Group A runner-up, in Saturday's quarterfinal in Tianjin. Korea will take on Germany, the Group A champs, the same day.

Korea advanced over Sweden (1-1-1, four points), due to superior goal differential (plus one to minus one, respectively. Nigeria finished the tournament winless at 0-2-1.

Lori Chapulny provided the offense with an opening minute goal and Hope Solo the defense with a pair of late saves, including one four minutes into stoppage time. Seconds later, the game was called and the U.S. booked a place against England.

If there was a downside to the match, it was the fact the Americans could not secure a second goal and get some breathing room to allow coach Greg Ryan to rest such key players as forwards Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly early on.

Lilly eventually was replaced by Lindsay Tarpley in the 84th minute, but Wambach, playing with 11 stitches in her head and an ailing big right toe, played the entire 90 minutes. In fact, Wambach gave the U.S. a scare when she went down twice while battling for the ball in the right corner.

The U.S. dominated a first half that was played in the driving rain, but could only walk into the locker room with a 1-0 lead.

The Americans' lone goal was scored by midfielder Lori Chapulny in the opening minute.

Defender Cat Whitehill took a throw-in from the left sideline that found Wambach in the penalty area. Wambach aheaded the ball to Chapulny, whose seven-yard shot was deflected by a Nigerian player only 55 seconds into the match.

It was Chapulny's first World Cup goal.

The U.S. could have added to its lead on several occasions.

Wambach, off Lilly’s left-wing cross from 10 yards, headed the ball wide left in the 20th minute.

After defender Kate Markgraf was fouled just outside the penalty area in the 24th minute, Lilly's 19-yard free-kick sailed over the crossbar a minute later.

Lilly was in the middle of things again as she attempted a seven-yard header that bounced one before winding up out of bounds wide left of the net in the 41st minute.

Two minutes later, Wambach forced goalkeeper Precious Dede to make a one-handed save on her eight-yard shot off a Lilly cross from the left flank, which was the Americans' second best scoring opportunity of the half.

Realizing their World Cup was on the line, the Nigerians came out with more purpose in the second half.

They had one dangerous opportunity -- in the 75th minute -- when Perpetua Nkwocha beat Whitehill down the right side. She penetrated into the penalty area and fired an eight-yard shot that went just wide left of the net.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who had a relatively silent match, came up big in the 85th minute, stopping a shot during a scramble in the penalty area.

Chapulny almost put the game away for the U.S. in the 88th minute goal, but Dede stopped her attempt.
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