Seeking to reach the semifinals of the Women's World Cup for the sixth time in as many attempts, the United States, a two-time champion, led Brazil, 1-0, at halftime of Sunday afternoon's quarterfinal match in Dresden, Germany.
Brazil, the losing finalist to Germany in the 2007 tournament in China, put itself into a hole right at the start when defender Daiane, trying to clear a cross into the area by American midfielder Shannon Boxx, instead sliced the ball into her own net for an own goal only three minutes into the match.
With both teams putting everything into the game, it became a little physical and U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd was issued a yellow card near the half-hour mark, while teammate Lauren Cheney appeared in danger of also being cautioned after a couple of fouls.
Brazil came close to tying the score seven minutes before the half ended when Fabiana pinged a shot off the U.S. crossbar. In the closing moment of the half, the Brazilians showed signs of losing composure and both Aline and Marta received yellow cards, the latter for dissent.
In the day's earlier quarterfinal match in Augsburg, Sweden scored twice in the first 20 minutes and had little difficulty defeating Australia, 3-1, in front of a crowd of 24,605.
Therese Sjogran gave the Swedes the lead after only 11 minutes and Lisa Dahlkvist made it 2-0 in favor of the 2003 Women's World Cup runners-up five minutes later. Elyse Perry threw the Australians a lifeline five minutes before halftime when she scored to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Seven minutes into the second half, however, Lotta Schelin found the back of the net to make it 3-1 and effectively end any hopes for Australia. Sweden will play Japan in Frankfurt in Wednesday's semifinals.
The winner of the U.S-Brazil match will play France in the other semifinal, also on Wednesday, in Moenchengladbach.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: U.S. forward Abby Wambach ocelebrates after Brazil's Daiane (bottom) scores an own goal during the Women's World Cup quarterfinal game on Sunday. Credit: Scott Heavey / Getty Images