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March 11, 2009
Sweden tops U.S. in Algarve final

FARO, Portugal Ė After Shannon Boxx scored to tie the game 1-1 in the 90th minute, the U.S. Womenís National Team fell in a penalty kick shootout 4-3 to Sweden in the championship game of the 2009 Algarve Cup.

Boxxís goal came after an intense second half of searching for a tying goal to answer Lotta Schelinís tally in the 18th minute. The Americans finally got it with seconds left in regulation time.

Carli Lloyd slipped past a player in midfield with a nice cut move and played a perfect ball into the left side of the penalty area to the streaking Natasha Kai. The Hawaiian ran the ball down at the end line, but was knocked down by a retreating Swedish defender. From a sitting position, Kai knocked the ball back to Megan Rapinoe in the left side of the penalty area. Rapinoe struck a hard cross on the ground through the goal mouth to Boxx at the far post where she slammed it first-time into the net from two yards away.

In the shootout, Swedenís Louise Fors scored on a hard shot into the lower left corner. Boxx answered with a perfect blast into the upper right corner. Lisa Dahlkvist also found the lower left corner, setting the stage for Rapinoe, whose driven shot was almost directly at Swedish goalkeeper Kristin HammarstrÝm and she batted the ball away.

Linda Sembrandt hit her shot off the left post and in, followed by Lloyd tucking her chance away into the left corner as well to make it 3-2 Sweden after three shots each. The USA then got new life as Anna Paulson skied Swedenís fourth shot over the bar, but the Americans didnít take advantage as Christie Rampone clanged her shot off the inside of the left post and behind the Swedish Ďkeeper, but it didnít cross the goal line.

Solo pushed Schelinís shot away with a full-extension dive to left post. The miss meant that late substitute Tina DiMartino had to convert the USAís fifth kick to send the shootout into sudden death. DiMartinoís shot was seemingly saved by HammarstrÝm with a dive to the left post, which would have ended the game, but the ball squeezed through the goalkeeperís hands and rolled across the goal line.

Emelie ÷lander then blasted her shot over the goal and incredibly, Sweden had missed its fourth, fifth and sixth kicks, giving 88th minute sub Angie Woznuk a chance to win it for the USA. Unfortunately, HammarstrÝm guessed correctly and pushed Woznukís shot away with a dive to the left post.

Stine Segerstrom then finished into the lower left corner on her teamís seventh penalty and Heather Mitts, who became the 25th player in U.S. history to reach 100 caps, cracked her shot off the left post and out to give Sweden the victory.
Sweden took the 1-0 lead in the game when Boxx miss hit a back pass to Rampone and created a 3-v-1 situation. Caroline Seger swooped in to control the ball then played a pass to her left to the wide-open Schelin who rolled her shot into the lower right corner past the charging Solo.

In the other Algarve Cup placement matches, Poland reversed a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Wales in the final match of Group C play to defeat the Welsh 2-1 and take eleventh place. Norway defeated Austria, 2-0, to take ninth. Finland and Portugal tied 1-1 after regulation before the hosts fell 4-2 in penalty kicks and China PR downed Iceland, 1-0, to take third. A 43rd minute goal from Julie Rydahl Bukh gave Denmark a 1-0 upset win against Germany in the third-place match.

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