Newspaper article The Canadian Press

U.S. Downs Nigeria at Women's World Cup to Clinch Top Spot in Group D

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

U.S. Downs Nigeria at Women's World Cup to Clinch Top Spot in Group D

Article excerpt

Wambach leads U.S. over Nigeria at World Cup

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VANCOUVER - Abby Wambach finally found her scoring touch on the artificial turf at the Women's World Cup.

The American captain poked home a Megan Rapinoe corner kick just before halftime Tuesday as the United States downed Nigeria 1-0 to clinch top spot in Group D.

Wambach had blamed the plastic playing surface for her team's lack of goals through two games at the tournament after an uninspiring 0-0 tie with Sweden on Friday that saw the 35-year-old miss two golden opportunities.

She didn't have a problem converting on this night, but also wasn't about to back down from her comments.

"Scoring goals is not that easy. I'm not making any excuses," said Wambach. "I need to finish chances that are handed to me ... but that being said, the turf does make the ball bounce differently. You think differently about the game and that's just the reality."

Wambach was involved in a lawsuit by a group of international players prior to the World Cup over staging the event on turf, arguing the men's tournament has always been played on grass. The suit was eventually dropped, but Wambach has remained vocal and said the fact that her comments have made waves is a positive.

"It's awesome that we're talking about women's football," she said. "It's awesome that we're having some of these discussions. It's awesome that we're analysing and hyper-dissecting things that we all say. For me, that means there's growth."

The Americans wound up topping Group D -- the so-called "Group of Death" because the U.S., Sweden and Australia are all ranked in the top-10 -- with seven points and will play their match in the round of 16 in Edmonton on Monday.

Australia secured the second spot after tying Sweden 1-1 in Edmonton. The Australians wound up with five points, while the Swedes picked up their third straight draw to finish third with three points. Nigeria, meanwhile, completed its World Cup at the bottom of the group with a tie and two losses.

Wambach started her second game of the tournament alongside fellow striker Alex Morgan, leading the charge for an American side that had a number of chances before and after the breakthrough. …

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