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U.S. trails Sweden, 2-0, at halftime in the Women's World Cup

July 6, 2011 | 12:41 pm

Needing only a tie to clinch first place in its Women's World Cup group, the U.S. trailed Sweden, 2-0, at halftime of their match in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Wednesday.

The Swedes took the lead in the 15th minute after U.S. defender Amy LePeilbet pulled down Swedish midfielder Lotta Schelin after Schelin had gotten around her. The referee gave LePeilbet a yellow card and awarded Sweden a penalty kick.

Lisa Dahlkvist stepped up to take the kick and fired the ball past U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. It was the first goal Solo had allowed in 796 consecutive minutes and marked the first time the U.S. had trailed in the tournament after earlier victories over North Korea and Colombia.

The American team came close to tying the score in the 32nd minute when LePeilbet sent a long ball downfield to forward Amy Rodriguez, but the former USC star's shot rebounded off the Swedish crossbar after she tried to chip goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.

Sweden then doubled its lead after another U.S. defensive miscue. This time defender Rachel Buehler fouled Sweden midfielder Therese Sjogran about 25 yards out from the net. The free kick by midfielder Nilla Fischer caught the luckless LePeilbet on the thigh, took a sharp deflection and left Solo helpless in the nets.

If the U.S. loses the match, it would play unbeaten and untied Brazil in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

In earlier games Wednesday, Brazil trounced Equatorial Guinea, 3-0, with Cristiane scoring twice, and Australia upset former world champion Norway, 2-1, to clinch a quarterfinal place.

Sweden will play Australia if it beats the U.S.


New Zealand ties Mexico, 2-2

Brazil clinches berth in Women's World Cup quarterfinals

-- Grahame L. Jones

Photo: Swedish players celebrate after Lisa Dahlkvist (hands raised) scores to give Sweden a 1-0 lead over the U.S. at the Women's World Cup on Wednesday. Peter Steffen / EPA