Tue, Oct 07, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Germany sinks US' World Cup dream

GOING HOME American star Mia Hamm was in tears after the 3-0 semifinal defeat, while Sweden made it an all-Europe final by beating Canada 2-1

REUTERS , NEW YORK

United States' Abby Wambach, left, and Germany's Kerstin Stegemann battle for the ball in the second half of the 2003 Women's World Cup semifinals on Sunday at PGE Park in Portland, Oregon.

PHOTO: AP

Germany reached the final of the Women's World Cup by shocking hosts and defending champions the US 3-0 on Sunday.

They will meet Sweden in the Oct. 12 final, after the Scandinavians scored twice in seven minutes late on to beat Canada 2-1 in the day's other semifinal.

The US, favorites to retain their title, fell behind to an early Kerstin Garefrekes header and despite dominating much of the tense encounter in Portland, Oregon, could not break down a diligent German rearguard.

Maren Meinert and Birgit Prinz both claimed injury-time goals on the counter-attack to increase American woe, and leave players such as Mia Hamm -- likely bowing out of World Cup soccer after a glittering career -- in tears.

"That may have been the greatest match in the history of women's soccer," US coach April Heinrichs said.

"We had our chances ... but we were playing against a great team. The margins [between success and failure] are so slim," she said. "I just told my players I'm proud of them, and that I would not swap them for anyone else."

With 12 goals to their name before Sunday's clash, the US were strongly favoured to add to the world titles won in 1991 and 1999.

But Germany, the reigning European champions, have improved through every stage of this year's tournament in search of a maiden world crown.

Canada have been the surprise package of this year's tournament and it looked as though they could extend their run when Kara Lang's swerving free kick from 30m was parried into the top corner by culpable Sweden keeper Caroline Joensson after 64 minutes.

But a brilliant link-up between Victoria Svensson and Malin Mostroem saved Sweden in Portland.

Their quickly-taken free-kick enabled Mostroem to level in the 79th minute and, from a low Svensson cross four minutes from time, substitute Josefine Oeqvist steered home the winner off the upright.

The final will be at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

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