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Early goal fires US into World Cup quarter-finals

18 September 2007 16:20

SHANGHAI (AFP) - A goal after just 55 seconds by Lili Chalupny saw the United States scrape past Nigeria 1-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the women's World Cup here on Tuesday.

As Typhoon Wipha bore down on Shanghai bringing heavy rain to the Hongkou Stadium, the world number ones progressed from Group B as the top team to meet England, second in Group A, in Tianjin on Saturday for their quarter-final tie.

It was the 50th undefeated match in a row for the US team dating back to a defeat by Norway in 2004, according to world governing body FIFA.

The pre-tournament favourites, who have won the trophy twice before, took an early lead when striker Abby Wambach back-headed a throw-in into the path of Chalupny, who chested the ball down and fired on goal.

Nigeria's goalkeeper Precious Dede was well-positioned to collect the shot but the ball took a wicked deflection from a defender and ended up in the back of the net.

It was the second victory for the United States in Group B after their 2-0 win against Sweden which followed a 2-2 draw in their opening game against North Korea.

The Koreans ended up second in the group after losing their match 2-1 to Sweden in Tuesday's other group game. They go on to play world champions Germany in another quarter-final in Wuhan on Saturday.

The United States struggled to dominate the skilful African champions who looked threatening throughout the match.

However, in the first half, the US had most of the action in front of goal and it seemed just a matter of time before the attacking trio of Chalupny, veteran Kristine Lilly, and the ever-dangerous Wambach would increase the lead.

But the water-logged pitch made the going heavy for both teams and chances were few and far between.

The best in the first half fell to Wambach, who sent a bullet header screeming towards the top of the net until Dede managed to tip it over the bar in the 44th minute.

Nigeria, who drew with Sweden 1-1 and lost to North Korea 2-0, are eliminated from the competition, paying a heavy price for poor finishing.

Their best effort was a header from 20-year-old Rita Chikwelu with less than 10 minutes to run which saw US 'keeper Hope Solo scrambling desperately to keep it out

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