CHENGDU, China -- Playing with a sore toe and 11 stitches in
her head doesn't seem to bother Abby Wambach.
The top U.S. striker scored both goals Friday in a 2-0 victory
over Sweden in the women's World Cup. She now has three in two
games, and the win puts the No. 1-ranked Americans in good position
to make the quarterfinals.
Wambach converted a penalty in the 34th, and scored a textbook
goal in the 58th, settling a long ball on her chest from Kristine
Lilly and then driving a 15-yard, left-footed shot past Sweden
keeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Wambach has scored 80 goals in 98 games for the U.S. national
team, which is seeking its third World Cup to go with titles in '91
"We knew that this was potentially an elimination match with
Sweden," American coach Greg Ryan said. "Big players win
championships, and you saw what happened here tonight."
Wambach gave veteran Lilly most of the credit for the second
goal, which would make a highlight film in any tournament.
"She saw me making a run, and she basically did all the rest,"
Wambach said. "She put an amazing ball on my chest between the two
defenders. I took a decent touch off my chest and was able to
"It's one of those goals as a forward where you say: 'Yeah I
meant to put it exactly where it went in.' But in this type of
situation I just hit as hard as I could an it went in."
The victory is a boost for the Americans following an testing
2-2 draw with North Korea in it opening game of Group B, the
toughest group of the 16-team tournament.
The Americans, who are undefeated in 48 games in 2 1/2 years
under coach Greg Ryan, face Nigeria on Tuesday in Shanghai in the
final Group B game. Sweden faces North Korea on Tuesday in Tianjin
and needs a victory to have a shot of advancing.
The top two teams in the group advance to the quarterfinals.
The Americans have four points in two games. No. 3-ranked Sweden
has one from a 1-1 draw with Nigeria and is in danger of missing
the final eight.
After being pressed hard for much of the early game in
southwestern China, the Americans took control after Wambach's
Defender Kate Markgraf started the first scoring play, sending
in a long, soaring ball that was badly misjudged by Sweden keeper
Lindahl, who allowed it to bounce over her head. Racing to put the
loose ball home, American midfielder Lori Chalupny was taken down
in the area by Swedish defender Stina Segerstrom.
The goal gave the Americans energy they lacked in the first 20
minutes when Sweden controlled play and had four corners in the
first four minutes.
Just 14 seconds into the game, Sweden's top striker Hanna
Ljungberg headed just wide of an open goal.
The Americans began to settle after 20 minutes. Defender Cat
Whitehill sailed a long shot that Lindahl jumped to tip over the
bar in the 21st. In the 22nd, Lilly rifled in another long ball
that Lindahl scrambled to stop.
Wambach, Chalupny and Carli Lloyd tested Lindahl as the
Americans began to control more possession and play with more
Striker Victoria Svensson was Sweden's biggest threat in the
first half. In 29th she shot just over the crossbar, and in the
32nd her free kick sailed just high.
Wambach's second-half goal seemed to deflate Sweden, who could
find no answer and saw a streak of 14 consecutive scoring games in
the World Cup end.
Svensson was the most troubling player in the second half, too.
In the 79th, the American keeper leaped to bat her long shot over
the crossbar, and moments later Ljungberg missed from close range
in one of Sweden's last gasps to get back into the game.
The United States opened with two changes from opening draw with
North Korea. Leslie Osborne came in for Shannon Boxx in the holding
midfield position, and Lindsay Tarpley replaced Heather O'Reilly at