March 6, 2009
KAI CLINCHES IT
Late goal give U.S. spot in Algarve final
FERREIRAS, Portugal – Second half substitute Natasha Kai scored a spectacular goal in the last minute of regulation time to give the U.S. Women’s National Team a dramatic 1-0 victory over Iceland in the second group game for both teams at the 2009 Algarve Cup.
|Natasha Kai scored in the last minute to give the U.S. a 1-0 win over Iceland in the Algarve Cup
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The U.S. victory, combined with Denmark’s 2-0 win against Norway, clinched Group B and a berth in the championship game on March 11 at Stadium Algarve in Faro against the winner of Group A. The U.S. will face Norway in its final group match on March 9 in Ferreiras, but that result will have no impact on the USA’s standing in the group.
After a desperate clearance was settled by U.S. captain Christie Rampone on the left edge of the center circle in the USA’s attacking half, she sent a perfect pass over the Iceland defense to Kai. Kai brought the ball down on her chest just a step inside the penalty area, let it bounce once and then lifted it over an onrushing Iceland defender. Kai then darted past the defender and ripped a left-footed half-volley into the right corner from 12 yards out.
The USA advances to its unprecedented seventh straight Algarve Cup championship game, having won the tournament in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
Iceland got its first chance of the second half in the 72nd minute after stripping the ball from the U.S. midfield, which led to a Dora Maria Larusdóttir hitting a blistering drive from the right side of the penalty area. U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart had to tip the ball over the crossbar.
With one minute left in regulation, substitute Rachel Buehler, who had come on just five minutes earlier, knifed through the penalty box to get her head on a Carli Lloyd free-kick from the ride side, but sent her chance skimming wide right.