After 'group of death', do-or-die for U.S. and Australia

Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:27am EDT
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Having escaped the 'group of death', it is now do-or-die for the

United States and Australia after advancing to the knockout round of the Women's World Cup on Tuesday.

In a pool featuring three sides ranked in the top 10 and the top African nation Nigeria, there may be no tougher route to the July 5 title game than from Group D, but the U.S. (2) and Australia (10) navigated the first stretch hitting only a few bumps along the way.

The U.S. (2-1-0) clinched top spot with a testy 1-0 win over Nigeria that included a red card and finished with the Super Falcons coach Edwin Okon refusing to shake his opposite number American Jill Ellis's hand.

The sour finish did not take away from sweet victory for the Americans, whose defense has been air-tight in not conceding a goal in 243 minutes, even if their attack has sputtered.

Abby Wambach, the all-time leading scorer in women's soccer, added to her record total in the 45th minute.

The goal also boosted the U.S. captain's World Cup tally to 14 and moved her into a tie for second on the all-time list with Germany's Birgit Prinz.

"I think it is important people understand scoring goals in not that easy," said Wambach, though she has made it look routine with 183 for her country.   Continued...

Jun 16, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; United States goalkeeper Hope Solo (1) and defender Becky Sauerbrunn (4) and defender Meghan Klingenberg (22) and defender Ali Krieger (11) celebrate their win over Nigeria in a Group D soccer match in the 2015 FIFA women's World Cup at BC Place Stadium.The United States won 1-0 and win Group B. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports