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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 8:53 a.m., Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wambach scores twice as U.S. beats Norway for third

By Stephen Wade
Associated Press

SHANGHAI, China — Abby Wambach gave the United States something more than bad memories to carry home from the women's World Cup.

Wambach's two goals, and two more from Lori Chalupny and Heather O'Reilly, led the United States to a lopsided 4-1 victory over Norway today in the third-place game.

Brazil was to play defending champion Germany later for the title.

Natasha Kai, a former University of Hawaii and Kahuku High School star, played, entering the game in the 90th minute.

Wambach scored in the 30th and 46th minutes to give her six goals for the tournament and put the United States in command.

The powerful American striker deflected in Chalupny's bouncing shot from outside the area in the 30th. Sixteen minutes later, she chipped in a loose ball that Norwegian keeper Bente Nordby failed to control.

Chalupny and O'Reilly scored in quick succession early in the second half, giving them each two for the tournament. Chalupny hit home in the 58th on a freak shot that hit a Norwegian defender's leg and went in from long range. O'Reilly scored a minute later, knocking in a rebound from close in.

Norway broke through in the 63rd on Ragnhild Gulbrandsen's header — her sixth goal of the tournament — that went in just over the fingertips of American keeper Briana Scurry.

The United States has won the World Cup twice — '91 and '99 — and has been third in '95, '03 and this year.

A team distracted by the expulsion of goalkeeper Hope Solo pulled together three days after a humiliating 4-0 semifinal loss to Brazil. The loss ended a 51-game winning streak for the No. 1-ranked Americans, who never dominated in earlier matches: a 2-2 draw with North Korea and victories of Sweden, Nigeria and England.

The loss to Brazil was the worst for the U.S. in World Cup history, promoting Solo — who was benched for the game and replaced by Scurry — to openly criticize Ryan for not playing her.

Veteran players seemed most offended by Solo's remarks, in which she seemed to question Scurry's ability. She helped the Americans win the '99 World Cup, and her save in a penalty kick shootout in the victory is almost legendary.

After two tumultuous days and Solo's apology to the team, Ryan still excluded her for the Norway match, putting her future with the national team in doubt. She did not attend the game, but team officials said Sunday she remained in China.

Ryan's unusual move — Solo was unscored on in almost 300 minutes in four World Cup games — also puts his contract renewal in doubt. His contract expires at year's end.

The Americans dominated Norway from the first few seconds with forwards O'Reilly, Wambach, and Kristine Lilly all threatening with balls in the box, making Wambach's breakthrough seem inevitable.

The World Cup game is likely will be the last for 36-year-old Lilly, the only player to have played in all five women's World Cups. She said she has not decided if she will play in next year's Beijing Olympics.

Defender Kate Markgraf missed the game with a leg injury, replaced by Marian Dalmy. Aly Wagner also started at midfield, replacing Shannon Boxx who picked up a red card against Brazil and was suspended for the game.