Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 20 News List

US hang on to unbeaten record

NO MERCY: The speedy North Koreans took full advantage of a period when US striker Abby Wambach was off the field injured, scoring two goals


Heather O'Reilly's goal in the 69th minute lifted the US to a 2-2 draw with North Korea in yesterday's Group B opening game at the women's World Cup.

The North Koreans capitalized on the US temporarily being a player down to hit the lead with two second-half goals, but O'Reilly pulled them level when she rifled a 10m shot into a top corner of the net.

The US are now unbeaten in 47 games in two-and-a-half years under coach Greg Ryan.

The game before 35,000 at Chengdu Sports Center Stadium was everything that was expected -- the world's top-ranked side against No. 5-ranked North Korea, Asia's best team and the quickest in the 16-team World Cup field.

Striker Abby Wambach gave the US a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute with a long-range shot that the North Korean goalkeeper got her gloves to but was only able to deflect into the net. Minutes later, Wambach cracked heads with a teammate in a scramble around goal. Wambach went off the field with blood pouring from her, leaving the US with 10 players.

In the several minutes she was away, North Korea scored twice.

Kil Son-hui benefitted from a goalkeeping error, as Hope Solo let a long shot slip through her hands in the wet conditions in the 58th. In the 62nd, Kim Yong-ae scored, pouncing on a rebound and shooting past Solo, who anticipated a shot to the other side of the net.

Wambach came back on in the 65th, and that seemed to calm things for the US with O'Reilly scoring minutes later with a clever shot using the outside of her boot. Despite their poise, the US looked unnerved at times against the super-quick Koreans.

Group B is the toughest in the World Cup with world No. 3 Sweden and African champions Nigeria also fighting for a spot in the quarter-finals. The US play Sweden on Friday and North Korea face Nigeria.

The North Koreans pressed the Americans in the first half like few teams have.

Keeping the ball on the slick turf, Korean striker Ri Kum-suk lashed several shots just wide of American keeper Solo. Kim Yong-ae and Kim Kyong-hwa joined Ri, putting a half dozen more shot on goal that Hope had to save.

The North Koreans always counterattacked, seldom waiting for a slow build up. The Americans had trouble keeping possession, but still managed threats in spurts. They looked dangerous on several corners and free kicks.

In other Women's World Cup group stage results yesterday, it was:


Japan 2, England 2


Nigeria 1, Sweden 1

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