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Chalupny Scores in First Minute at U.S. WNT Edges Nigeria 1-0 to Win Group B at 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup


SHANGHAI, China (Sept. 18, 2007) – The U.S. Women’s National Team got a goal just 53 seconds into the match from midfielder Lori Chalupny, then battled Nigeria through a steady rain on a sloppy pitch for the remainder of the match to record a 1-0 victory and win Group B at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

With seven points from three group matches, the USA takes first place in one of the most difficult groups in Women’s World Cup history and will now face Group A runner-up England in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Sept. 22, in Tianjin at the Olympic Center Stadium. Kickoff is 8 p.m. local and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning at 7:55 a.m. ET.

In the other Group B match played simultaneously, Sweden defeated North Korea, 2-1, as Lotta Schelin scored twice, but the result was not enough to keep the Swedes in the tournament as the Koreans advanced to the quarterfinals due to a superior goal difference. North Korea will face defending champion Germany on Saturday, Sept. 22, in Wuhan (live at 4:55 a.m. ET on ESPN2).

“I am also very proud of my players because this is a very difficult group," said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan. "Tonight’s games allow us to go first in our group, which was an important goal for our team. To go through without a loss in this group, I’m very, very happy that we’ve reached this stage." (More Quotes)

While sheets of rain fell on the players during the entire game, and the field was soft and slippery due to persistent rain the entire day leading up to the match, the feared typhoon conditions of high winds and thunderstorms did not materialize.

Heading into the match, the USA knew that in order to win the group, it needed to beat Nigeria by more goals than North Korea beat Sweden. In the end, the North Koreans lost, meaning the USA just needed a tie to win the group, but the Americans got a quick start nevertheless, scoring inside the first minute after earning a throw-in deep on the left sideline. Defender Cat Whitehill tossed the ball on a loop toward the six yard box where forward Abby Wambach flicked it on with her head. The ball fell to Chalupny, who took it down with her chest and toe-poked a shot that took a deflection off a Nigerian defender’s leg and into the lower left corner from six yards away.

It was Chalupny’s fifth career international goal, and her first in a Women’s World Cup. It was also the second fastest goal at the beginning of a match in Women’s World Cup history.

While the crafty and speedy Nigerians had the edge in possession, the USA had more dangerous chances, out-shooting the African champions 16-10 while putting six shots on goal. The USA also had four dangerous headers, two by Abby Wambach and one each from Kristine Lilly and Shannon Boxx, that missed the frame. Nigeria had just two shots on frame during the entire match.

Lilly also had two free kicks – one in each half – from just outside the penalty area, but sailed both just over the crossbar.

One of those Wambach headers came in the 19th minute after a good buildup down left side. Lilly dropped a nice cross right on Wambach’s head, but her leaping header went high. In the 43rd minute, another crashing header from Wambach was acrobatically pushed over the crossbar by flying Nigerian goalkeeper Precious Dede. Wambach was treated rudely by the Nigerian defenders, getting cut down from behind and cracked in the head on several occasions, several of which were not blown as fouls.

Boxx had an open look at a far post header off a corner kick just a minute before halftime, but couldn’t turn it on net.

Sweden also got an early goal in the other Group B game, meaning with the USA’s 1-0 lead, they were carrying a two goal advantage over North Korea until the Asian power tied the game in the 24th minute. Before Sweden took the lead back in the 54th minute, there was a 30-minute stretch in which one more North Korea goal would have put them atop the group by virtue of more goals scored. Alas, it was the Swedes that got the winner, and the USA also had to hold off a late Nigerian charge.

The U.S. back line of Christie Rampone, Whitehill, Kate Markgraf and Stephanie Lopez did a remarkable job of keeping the pacey Nigerians in front of them, as the Africans broke midfield pressure on several occasions in the second half to get free down the wings, only to be run down by U.S. players. Nigeria’s best chance of the game came in the 75th minute when Perpetua Nkwocha got a step on Whitehill into the right side of the penalty box, but slid her shot wide left of the goal as U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo came out to challenge.

Solo came up with the save of the game with five minutes left in the match as Rita Chikwelu got on the end of a cross from the right flank for a far post header that Solo first saved, and then corralled in a mad goal mouth scramble during which she was fouled. She also had to secure a skipping cross on the ground in the 87th minute.

The USA came close to getting a second goal on three occasions in the latter stages of the second half, but Dede was solid in the nets for Nigeria. In the 68th, Lilly hit a drive from the top of penalty arc right at the Nigerian ‘keeper and in the 80th minute, Dede knocked down a cross from O’Reilly, which was cleared before Chalupny could get a boot on it.

Two minutes from time, Chalupny hammered a shot through traffic from inside the penalty area that Dede somehow saved with her legs.

The Americans killed most of the last few minutes by holding the ball deep in the right corner, a tactic for which Wambach paid the price, getting kicked several times and hit in the face by the scrambling Nigerians.

Ryan made his three allowed substitutes, sending on Leslie Osborne in the 64th minute for Carli Lloyd, giving Lindsay Tarpley the last six minutes in place of Lilly, as well as giving a first Women’s World Cup cap to defender Tina Ellertson, who came in for Rampone in the 77th minute. It was a special game for Ellertson, whose mom was born in Nigeria.

The USA will not travel to Tianjin tomorrow due to the impending arrival of the heart of typhoon Wipha that is scheduled to hit Shanghai in the early morning hours. The U.S. team will spend the day in Shanghai waiting for the storm to blow over before heading north to Tianjin on Thursday.

Fans can follow the 2007 Women’s World Cup on the ESPN family of networks, which will broadcast all 32 games live, as well as on ussoccer.com, which is providing daily information via podcasts, videos, features, the WNT blog and much, much more.

U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT

Match-up: USA vs. Nigeria
Competition: 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Group B
Venue: Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium – Shanghai, China
Date: Sept. 18, 2007; Kickoff – 8 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET
Attendance: 6,500
Weather: Steady rain, warm – 72 degrees

Scoring Summary:
          1   2   F
USA  1   0   1
NGA  0   0  0

USA – Lori Chalupny (Abby Wambach) 1st minute.

Lineups:
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 3-Christie Rampone (8-Tina Ellertson, 77), 15-Kate Markgraf, 4-Cat Whitehill, 14-Stephanie Lopez; 7-Shannon Boxx, 17-Lori Chalupny, 11-Carli Lloyd (12-Leslie Osborne, 64); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 84).

Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 2-Marian Dalmy, 6-Natasha Kai, 10-Aly Wagner, 16-Angela Hucles, 19-Marci Jobson, 21-Nicole Barnhart.

Head Coach: Greg Ryan

NGA: 1-Precious Dede; 13-Christie George – Capt., 14-Faith Ikidi, 16-Ulumma Jerome, 19-Lilian Cole; 2-Efioanwan Ekpo; 7-Stella Mbachu, 10-Rita Chikwelu, 11-Chi-Chi Igbo (8-Ifeanyi Chiejine, 22); 4-Perpetua Nkwocha, 18-Cynthia Uwak (9-Ogonna Chukwudi, 83).

Subs not used: 3-Ayisat Yusuf, 5-Onome Ebi, 6-Gift Otuwe, 12-Tochukwu Oluehi, 15-Maureen Mmadu, 17-Yinka Kudaisi, 20-Maureen Eke, 21-Aladi Ayegba

Head Coach: Ntiero Effiom

Statistical Summary:
            USA / NGA
Shots: 16 / 10
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 2 / 5
Corner Kicks: 4 / 1
Fouls: 10 / 19
Offside: 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
NGA – Lillian Cole (caution) 14th minute.

Officials:
Referee: Mayumi OIWA (JPN)
Asst. Referee: Hisae YOSHIZAWA (JPN)
Asst. Referee: Liu Hsiu Mei (TPE)
Fourth Official: Estela Alvarez (ARG)

Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Lori Chalupny
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