Fri, Oct 03, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Sweden, US reach the semifinals after achieving slim wins

AP , FOXBORO, MASSACHUSETTS

Defending champion US and European power Sweden advanced to the semifinals of the Women's World Cup after a pair of tight quarterfinal matches.

Abby Wambach headed in the lone goal Wednesday as the Americans edged 1995 winner Norway 1-0 while Sweden got goals from Malin Andersson and Victoria Svensson to help beat Brazil 2-1.

On Thursday, European champion Germany plays Russia while 1999 runner-up China takes on Canada in Portland, Oregon.

The US will face either Germany or Russia in the semifinals while Sweden takes on either China or Canada.

Besides her goal, Wambach generally wreaked havoc all over the Gillette Stadium field.

She was a threat all night -- to score, to draw fouls, to run over defenders. Her goal came on a first-half header off a long feed by another World Cup newcomer, Cat Reddick.

Bente Nordby kept Norway close with two big saves midway through the second half. She stopped Mia Hamm on a weak penalty kick in the 68th minute, then made a stunning diving stop of Cindy Parlow's header seconds later.

When the Americans, who have won the last four meetings with Norway, did threaten, it usually was in the air. Wambach headed off the top of the crossbar in the fifth minute and Reddick barely floated a long shot too high.

But Reddick was perfect with her 40M service to Wambach in the 24th minute, and Wambach outfought Marit Fiane Christensen to put home her header. Nordby got her hand on the ball, but it slipped into the net.

Norway, which finished behind Brazil in Group B, setting up the unusually early matchup of the world's highest-ranked teams, got its first shot on goal in the 77th minute, a weak effort by Dagny Mellgren.

The Swedes, who followed a loss in the opener to the US with two wins.

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