Women's World Cup - USA ease past North Korea

Tue, 28 Jun 19:25:00 2011

The USA came through a tough test in their opening match in Group C of the Women's World Cup as they beat North Korea 2-0 in Dresden.

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Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler got the goals for the US, whose domination of the second half earned them a deserved victory which puts them top of the group on goal difference from Sweden.

Chances were at a premium in the first half, with the midfield battle dominating the action thanks to the tireless work of the North Koreans breaking up the American's play.

Two clear-cut chances did fall just before the end of the first forty-five minutes, however, with almost identical openings at opposite ends of the pitch.

North Korea's Kim Su Gyong broke down the right-flank with three minutes to go before half-time, reaching the by-line and sliding the ball across the six-yard box. The ball took a deflection allowing Jo Yun Mi to get her foot to the ball, but her effort was straight at Hope Solo in the US goal.

Immediately afterwards, the USA raced down the pitch and Amy Rodriguez found herself at the opposite by-line. She had all the time in the world to pick out either Cheney or Abby Wambach, but her poor pass to the latter failed to find its target and the chance was wasted.

Despite being matched step-for-step in the opening period, a re-invigorated USA team came out after the break and completely dominated the rest of the match.  

From the off they pinned the North Koreans back into their own half, and it took just nine minutes for the stalemate to be broke as Carli Lloyd played a long raking pass that Wambach latched onto on the left flank.

Wambach then cut inside onto her right foot and picked out Cheney with a pinpoint cross which the winger nodded into the near corner of the net.

North Korea looked to respond immediately as Ri Ye Gyong went straight down the other end, powering through the middle of midfield and hitting a shot from twenty yards that just skimmed the top of Solo's crossbar.

They could not maintain this pressure, however, and the Americans were soon pushing hard for a second, Wambach hitting the crossbar herself with a diving header and then Rodriguez forcing a good save from Hong Myong Hui.

With thirteen minutes to go the game was ended as a contest when the Buehler popped up to score her team's second.  

Ali Krieger's cross had flicked the cross bar and Buehler was on hand to turn the ball back into the net with a low finish.

That killed off the threat of the North Koreans, who failed to muster another sustained attack.

In the end the USA could have had a third goal if substitute Megan Rapinoe had not had her effort harshly disallowed in the final minute, but Pia Sundhage's side will still be happy with a solid opening victory.

Phil Haigh / Eurosport

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