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US 3, England 0

US women oust England

Move to semis on second-half surge

TIANJIN, China - The United States reached the semifinals of the Women's World Cup, beating England, 3-0, yesterday behind second-half goals from Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, and Kristine Lilly.

Three goals in 12 minutes broke open a tight game and extended the top-ranked Americans' unbeaten streak to 51 games over almost three years. The outcome left England winless against the US in 19 years as the Americans seek their third World Cup title.

The US will face the winner of today's quarterfinal between heavily favored Brazil and Australia. The semifinal will be Thursday in Hangzhou, with the final Sept. 30 in Shanghai.

In yesterday's other quarterfinal in Wuhan, Germany defeated North Korea, 3-0, and will play Norway or China (which plays today) in Wednesday's semifinal.

Wambach banged in a header in the 48th minute, directing home a corner from Lilly before a crowd less than half the capacity of the 60,000-seat Olympic Center Stadium in the northern industrial city of 10 million. It was her fourth of the tournament.

"The first goal is always critical in a match," American coach Greg Ryan said. "It was difficult for England to get their game going again after that. They lost the momentum and we kept pressing, going after them."

"It's very difficult to play from one down. It was great we were able to put in one and then two others fairly quickly."

Boxx made it 2-0 in the 57th. The midfielder stripped a ball near midfield from England's Jill Scott and scored on a long shot, the ball going in off the fingertips of surprised goalkeeper Rachel Brown.

In the 60th, Lilly finally broke through with her first goal of this tournament - and her eighth in World Cup play. A long ball from across midfield bounced high and fooled Brown, who went far out from the net. She leaped and could only tip it, with Lilly running in behind to knock it home.

Lilly, the 36-year-old captain, is playing in an unprecedented fifth Women's World Cup.

England defender Faye White was flattened by an elbow in the 37th minute from Wambach, which the American said was accidental.

"The fact that Faye got that blow really shook her," England coach Hope Powell said.

Powell said her defense was probably caught napping when Wambach pounced.

"At this level, if you're not on your guard with players like Abby, they will punish you," Powell said. "We respect the fact she scored a great goal."

Although England had more possession and frustrated the US with its pressing defense in the first half, it failed to muster any serious chances with Karen Carney, Kelly Smith, and Eniola Aluko trying to organize most of the offense.

The US struggled early as it did in its first three games - a 2-2 tie against North Korea and narrow wins over Sweden and Nigeria. Unable to manage long possessions, the Americans were most threatening on set plays.

The US won World Cup titles in 1991 and '99 and has never failed to reach the semifinals. Four years ago, the Americans lost to eventual champion Germany, 3-0.

England was making only its second appearance in the World Cup quarterfinals and was more lightly regarded than at least two of the US opponents in group play, North Korea and Sweden.

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