U.S. must beat Norway for shot at first title.QUARTEIRA, Portugal (Tuesday, March 16, 1999) -- The United States must beat Norway Thursday to earn a spot in the championship match of the Sixth Algarve Cup.
Striker Tiffeny Milbrett brought her tally of international goals to 50, scoring twice in a 4-0 rout of Finland (0-2, 0 points) in Group A before 200 fans at Municipal Stadium, setting up the showdown between Norway, the 1995 world champions and the Americans, who captured the 1996 Summer Olympics gold medal.
The U.S. (1-0-1, 4 points) has never won the Algarve Cup in four previous tries. Norway (2-0, 6 points) posted a 2-1 victory over Sweden (0-1-1, 1 point), which tied the U.S. 1-1 on Sunday, in the other Group A match. Norway needs a tie or a win to advance to play the Group B winner in Saturday’s title match against China.
In Group B, China (2-0-0, 6 points) clinched a place in the tournament final with a preliminary match left to play. The combination of China's 2-0 victory over Denmark (0-1-1, 1 point) and a scoreless draw between Australia (0-0-2, 2 points and Portugal (0-1-1, 1 point) rendered the China-Australia match on Thursday meaningless for title contention.
Finland played with five defenders and four midfielders, but it took the U.S. only 14 minutes to solve the bunker and go ahead for good. Milbrett received a short pass from midfielder Julie Foudy about 35 yards from the goal, squared up to the net with her first touch and smashed a 30-yard left-footer into the upper left corner for a 1-0 lead,
Forward Cindy Parlow made it 2-0 in the 28th minute after a great individual effort by front-runner Shannon MacMillan, who carried through two defenders and beat a third to the end-line before getting off a cross. Parlow's 18th international goal came from three yards.
"This was our best effort of '99 so far," said U.S. coach Tony DiCicco. "Every player, including all the substitutes, made a huge commitment to the game both mentally and physically. Shannon MacMillan looked great, Cindy Parlow definitely made a difference and Tiffeny Milbrett put on one of her shows."
The third goal came after some crisp U.S. possession inside the penalty box freed Carla Overbeck for a shot from 19 yards out that was blocked by a sliding Finnish defender. The ball ricocheted to Milbrett, who cracked her first-time shot off the left post and into the net, making her the fifth U.S. player to reach the 50-goal milestone.
"It definitely felt good to see the team back in form," said Milbrett, who has scored three times in two Algarve outings. "We struggled a lot three weeks ago against Finland, but this time we were much more in control."
Midfielder Brandi Chastain, a second-half sub, tallied the final American goal in the 71st minute, netting a corner kick by MacMillan with a charging header.
"Our goals are always to improve as a team and win," Chastain said. "We've never won here and Norway is in our way. Looking at the bigger picture, we know we will probably have to play them to win the World Cup this summer and this match will be a great test."
Norway and Sweden played a highly competitive match that once again featured some brilliant play from Swedish goalkeeper Ulrika Karlsson. Linda Medalen opened the scoring for Norway in the 14th minute, volleying in a free-kick cross from Hege Riise.
Sweden tied the match in the 23rd minute on a spectacular strike from team captain Malin Andersson, whose cracker from 23 yards out flew over Norway's backup goalkeeper Ingeborg Hovland.
Sweden was dealt a harsh blow when 1995 World Cup and '96 Olympic veteran Kristin Bengtsson received her second yellow card and was ejected just 30 minutes into the game. With Sweden down to 10 players, Norway got the winner from 21-year old Anita Rapp, who slipped her breakaway chance under Karlsson in the 42nd minute.
United States 4, Finland 0Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett (Sara Whalen, 46), Christie Pearce, Michelle Akers (Brandi Chastain, 46), Julie Foudy (Tisha Venturini, 46), Kristine Lilly, Shannon MacMillan, Tiffeny Milbrett (Lorrie Fair 62), Cindy Parlow (Danielle Fotopoulos 46), Mia Hamm; Finland - Johanna Lindell, Anne Makinen, Sari Holstrom (Rosa Lappi-Seppla 30), Terhi Uusi-Luomalahti, Sanna Rasanen (Julia Uusmalmi 75), Christina Forssell, Johanna Hytti, Katri Nokso-Koivisto (Tina Saario 73), Sani Ylitalo, Minna Mustonen (Anna Virolainen 59), Terbi Uusi-Luomalahti (Elisa Simonen 65).
Shots: United States 26, Finland 2. Saves: United States 0, Finland 8. Corner kicks: United States 7, Finland 3. Fouls: United States 12, Finland 3. Offside: United States 8, Finland 0. Yellow card cautions: Finland - Uusi-Luomalahti 47.
Referee: Tina Svendsen (Denmark). Assistant referees: Tammy Ogsten (Australia), Rogerio Rebeca (Portugal). Attendance: 200 at Municipal Stadium in Quarteira, Portugal. Weather: Sunny, warm, 75 degrees.
Sixth Algarve Cup
Schedule, resultsTimes are local in Portugal. Times in parentheses are Eastern Standard
Sunday March 14
Tuesday, March 16
Thursday March 18
Saturday, March 20
Championship match in Loulè, 4 p.m. (10 a.m.)