March 9, 2011

US Wins Algarve Cup Championship

The USWNT won its eighth Algarve Cup title with a 4-2 triumph over Iceland. However, for the first time in the tournament, they had to come from behind to do so.

Carli Lloyd opened the scoring just eight minutes in, dribbling to her left and then hitting a laser of a shot back across to the upper right hand part of the net from over 20 yards out.

But just when it appeared that the United States might be settling in, Iceland struck for two quick goals just past the midway point of the first half. Nearly back-to-back, Katrin Omarsdóttir and Hallbera Gisladóttir scored and the United States found themselves down 2-1.

The United States was able to draw even in the closing seconds of the half. Megan Rapinoe got the ball outside right and hit a low cross that Lauren Cheney volleyed into the net from just inside the six-yard box.

Ten minutes into the second half, it was again Rapinoe, this time down the left side that sent the ball into the middle. After Amy Rodriguez dummied it, Shannon Boxx got off a hard shot that Icelandic goalkeeper Gudbjorg Gunnarsdóttir was able to stop. However, Heather O'Reilly pounced on the rebound and knocked it home for a 3-2 lead.

Alex Morgan finished the scoring in the late stages of the match, outbattling two Icelandic defenders for the ball and hitting a sliding shot into the net for the final margin of 4-2.

The United States outshot Iceland by a 24-8 margin for the match. Next up for the USWNT will be England in an international friendly scheduled to be played on April 2 at Leyton Orient.

3rd Place: Japan 2, Sweden 1

Japan completed a fairly successful run, defeating Sweden 2-1 in the 3rd place match. Japan's only blemish in the tournament was a 2-1 loss to eventual champions, the United States.

Things looked promising early on for the Swedes, as Therese Sjögran scored the game's first goal in the 14th minute of play. But just as in the match against Iceland, Sweden was unable to hold their lead.

Megumi Kamionobe and Nahomi Kawasumi scored in the 21st and 32nd minutes respectively, giving Japan a 2-1 lead before intermission, a score that would stand up as the final.

The game wasn't without milestones for Sweden, as Therese Sjögran played in her 167th match for the national team, which now stands as the all-time best for Sweden. Sara Larsson competed in her 100th match for Sweden.

5th Place: Norway 0, Denmark 0 (Norway 5-4 in penalty kicks)

Norway took 5th place over Denmark at Algarve. After playing to a scoreless draw, Norway took the penalty kick decison by a margin of 5-4, with Lindy Wiik getting the deciding goal.

Goalkeepers Ingrid Hjelmseth for Norway and Tina Viskær for Denmark kept the opponent off the scoreboard.

An injury forced Norway to play the last 20 minutes a player down after coach Eli Landsem had used up all of his substitutions.

7th Place: China 2, Wales 1

China got out to a 2-0 lead with a goal in each half and held on for the 2-1 win over Wales. Chinese striker You Jia scored just three minutes into the match. Gu Yasha tallied a goal in the 53rd minute.

Wales bounced back with a goal by Helen Lander in the 57th minute and had a chance to tie the match in the closing minutes, but Emma Jones' penalty attempt was stopped by Zhang Yanru, which preserved the victory for the Chinese.

9th Place: Portugal 2, Finland 1

The host team won the 9th place match by a 2-1 margin over Finland. Portugal took a 1-0 first half lead on another goal by Edite Fernandes. Fernandes deftly dribbled past a defender a hit a low shot that Finnish goalkeeper Minna Meriluoto attempted to kick save, only to have the ball deflect behind her into the net.

It stayed that way until Essi Sainio tied the match in the 75th minute on a deflection. The tie lasted only a moment as Carla Couto notched the game winner in the 76th minute.

11th Place: Chile 1, Romania 1 (Chile 6-5 in penalty kicks)

Chile avenged an earlier loss to Romania, winning by 6-5 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in regulation time.

After a scoreless first half, Chile struck first on a goal by Rocio Soto in the 68th minute. 15-year old Alexandra Lunca scored the tying goal in the 87th minute. But Chile was able to take the match on penalties for the victory.