Sweden wins 4-3 on penalty kicks for Algarve crown

March 11, 2009

FARO, Portugal -- Heather Mitts hit a post with her seventh-round shot, and Sweden defeated the United States 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 tie Wednesday night in the final of the Algarve Cup women's soccer tournament.

Sweden went ahead on a 19th-minute goal by Lotta Schelin after a defensive blunder by Shannon Boxx. But the favored United States, seeking its third straight title in the 12-team invitational tournament, rallied when Boxx tapped in a 90th-minute equalizer at the back post.

Goalkeeper Hope Solo, voted the tournament's most valuable player, made several excellent saves for the United States, playing in its seventh straight championship game.

Sweden won for the third time, following titles in 2001 and 1995. The U.S. team has won the tournament six times.

"Penalties aren't only about luck," said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, a Swede. "I know the Swedish goalkeeper [Kristin Hammarstrom] and she's very good at keeping out penalty kicks."

Denmark took third place with a 1-0 win over Germany thanks on a 41st-minute goal by Julie Rydahl-Bukh.

China finished fifth by defeating Iceland 2-1, and Finland beat Portugal 4-2 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie for seventh place. Norway defeated Austria 2-0 for ninth place, and Poland won 2-1 against Wales to finish 11th.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press