Mon, Jul 04, 2011 - Page 18 News List

US, Sweden advance to soccer World Cup quarter-finals

AFP, SINSHEIM, Germany

Group C favorites the US and Sweden advanced to the quarter-finals of the women’s soccer World Cup on Saturday, beating Colombia 3-0 and North Korea 1-0 respectively.

The demolition of the South Americans puts the US top of Group C ahead of Sweden on goal difference with both sides unbeaten after two games and going head to head for group supremacy in Wolfsburg on Wednesday. They join France and Germany, who have already reached the knock-out round from Group A, with Japan going through in Group B.

Although the world No. 1 team overwhelmed the Colombian debutantes with goals from Heather O’Reilly (12), Megan Rapinoe (50) and Carli Lloyd (57), the scoreline belied a string of missed opportunities by the US.

“We didn’t finish our chances, but as long as we create chances I’m happy that we will put them away eventually and we did in the second half,” said Swedish-born US coach Pia Sundhage.

“The advantage for the US is that we’ve been winning gold, silver and bronze medals since 1991 [the first World Cup]. This is something that we can call up when we’re pushed into a corner.”

The US, winners in 1991 and 1999, beat North Korea 2-0 in their opener.

The South Americans could have been further behind at half-time but for some big saves from Colombian goalie Sandra Sepulveda.

Star US striker Abby Wambach had a bad day, missing numerous chances for the reigning Olympic champions, but O’Reilly made no mistake after 12 minutes, slamming past the beleaguered Sepulveda with a glorious effort from distance.

For the goal celebration, the entire US team lined up and saluted US military personnel among the sell-out 25,475 crowd who had traveled from bases in nearby Heidelberg in southwestern Germany.

Rapinoe came on as a second-half substitute and five minutes later she found the net with another substitute Stephanie Cox setting up Lloyd for the third.

Sweden, the 2003 finalists, had to wait for Lisa Dahlkvist’s 64th-minute goal to see off North Korea in front of 23,768 spectators in Augsburg earlier.

North Korea’s defense held up well before three Swedish midfielders helped give the Europeans the lead in the 64th minute.

Linda Forsberg sent a diagonal cross from the left side to the far post where Therese Sjogran volleyed back across the goal mouth and Dahlkvist blasted in from four yards.

Colombia and North Korea crash out of the tournament after losing both their games and will play each other in their final group game on Wednesday with nothing but pride at stake.

“This team is very young and they are inexperienced in such a competition as this,” North Korea coach Kim Kwang-min said. “But this World Cup will have taught them a lot of lessons. In four years time they will be stronger.”

The competition continued yesterday with Group D leaders Brazil and Norway looking to gain a foothold in the knock-out round in Wolfsburg as Australia and Equatorial Guinea squared off looking for their first points in Bochum.

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