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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

March 2, 2012
TWO FOR TWO
U.S. Women defeat Norway, 2-1


Abby Wambach scored her 133rd international goal in the USA’s 2-1 win over Norway on Friday.
Abby Wambach scored her 133rd international goal in the USA’s 2-1 win over Norway on Friday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
LAGOS, Portugal – Second-half goals by Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux lifted the U.S. Women’s National Team over Norway 2-1 in Algarve Cup group play Friday at Estadio Municipal.

Wambach put the U.S. on the board in the 51st minute, with her 133rd career international goal, and Leroux tallied the game-winner in the 81st.
The USA, who top Group B at 2-0-0 with a +6 goal differential, will close out first-round play with a Women’s World Cup final rematch against Japan on March 5 at Estadio Algarve in Faro ( 9:10 a.m. ET). The USA heads into the match against the second-place Japanese needing a victory or a tie to win the group and qualify for the championship game, which will be played on March 7.

Wambach’s goal came minutes after U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo turned away dangerous shots by Lindy Melissa Wiik and Elise Thorsnes – Norway’s first two shots on goal of the match. Wambach set the ensuing attack in motion with a cross from the left side. The ball skipped through the penalty area and out to the right, where Heather O'Reilly ran it down. She played it back into Boxx, who was dispossessed, but the ball rolled right to second half substitute Heather Mitts on the right side. Wambach's former teammate at the University of Florida spun a perfect cross over the pack of players to the left side of the penalty box. Wambach's first touch settled the ball and then she laced a 16-yard shot across the face of the goal, off the right post and in.

The second U.S. tally came from a pair of second-half substitutes, Amy Rodriguez, who cae on for O’Reilly in the 58th minute, and Leroux, who replaced Alex Morgan in the 77th. Rodriguez collected a 50-yard pass to the right wing from defender Rachel Buehler and ran at her defender down the line before cutting the ball back inside and hitting a cross to the far post. Leroux jumped over a Norway defender to pound a header into the net from three yards out as both went down in a heap. It was Leroux's seventh international goal in just seven career games and her second of the tournament.

Norway got on the board with just seconds left after the U.S. let Thorsnes get free in the left side of the penalty area to power a shot past Solo from close range. The USA didn't even have time to kick off before the final whistle blew. It was the first goal Solo has allowed in 2012 and only the second the U.S. has allowed in its first eight games of the year.

The U.S.A. dominated the scoreless first half, but could have scored several goals early, largely thanks to heads-up play by Alex Morgan. In the 8th minute, Morgan picked off a Norway pass in the midfield, touched the ball around a defender and raced toward the goal down the left side. She had Wambach making a run up the middle but chose to shoot, and Norwegian goalkeeper Caroline Knutsen was able to dive to parry the near-post drive away for a corner kick.

About five minutes later, Morgan burst through the center of the Norway defense on a breakaway. She ran 40 yards with three players chasing but then cut her left-footed shot wide right of the goal from the top of the penalty area.

Morgan played distributor in the 23rd minute after a nice combination of passes down the right wing got her free to chip a cross into the middle. The ball was headed up in the air by a Norwegian defender and it fell to the leaping Tobin Heath at the far post, but Knutsen pushed away her sharp header.




   
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