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Algarve Cup

Early Chastain penalty kick gives U.S. first crown 1-0 over Norway.

Brandy Chastain LOULE, Portugal (Saturday, March 18, 2000) -- Brandi Chastain, whose penalty kick in a tiebreaker won the Women’s World Cup for the United States last summer, netted a PK in the ninth minute of regulation this afternoon to provide the U.S. a 1-0 triumph over Norway to capture the Algarve Cup before 850 at Municipal Stadium.

It was the first time the Americans won the Algarve competition in their sixth appearance and it was the closing speed of striker Mia Hamm that put Chastain on the penalty spot.

Norwegian defender Bente Kvitland tried to head a bouncing ball back to goalkeeper Bente Nordby, but didn't get enough on the pass. Hamm raced into the box, beat Nordby to the ball and touched it around her. A half-step late, Nordby cut Hamm's legs out from under her, sending the American sprawling. Swedish referee Ingrid Johnsson did not hesitate in awarding the penalty kick.

Chastain stepped up and nailed her shot into the left corner to put the U.S. ahead 1-0.

"(U.S. coach) April (Heinrichs) talked about this game being basically about rolling up your sleeves, getting your fingernails dirty and getting the job done and I think that's what you saw today," Hamm said. "I think everyone played extremely well. The back line along with (midfielders) Julie Foudy and Lorrie Fair was tremendous and they were all so organized."

Norway, which had won the cup four times and had beaten the Americans twice this year, nearly equalized in the 47th minute, but Dagny Mellgren missed from a sharp angle. Mellgren scored three times Thursday to lead Norway to a surprising 3-0 victory over China, the nation the U.S. beat in the World Cup final.

The Norwegians did not manage their first shot until the 33d minute and that was a slow roller from distance that gave goalkeeper Siri Mullinix no trouble.

The U.S. and Norway met in the 1994 Algarve final, the first time the tournament was held. The Americans made the final again in 1999, but lost to China.

"Norway is playing as good a soccer as I've ever seen them play, so for us to win this game and this tournament was a tremendous result," said new U.S. coach April Heinrichs, who now has four Algarve match wins under her belt after losing the first the first two matches as coach to Norway. "China only beat Sweden, 1-0 (for third place), and it shows that the parity is here. We're very pleased about this win and I think the players really wanted this tournament.

"Winning close games shows hard defending," added Heinrichs, whose team gave up just one goal in four tournament outings. "It wasn't the prettiest game, but there is a certain amount of attractiveness to Norway-USA games. I told the players to bring their hard hat and hammer to work today because it was going to be a classic battle and it really was. We talked before we left for Europe about being mentally tougher on the road and how maybe we didn't have the focus in the past. The focus was here this time."

The Americans’ best chance came in the 43d minute when Fair laced a beautiful pass to forward Tiffeny Milbrett down the right flank. The pass was just a bit long and the Norwegian defender tried to guide the ball out of bounds, but Milbrett won it with a slide, popped up with the ball and then blew past Goril Kringen. Milbrett cut a pass back to midfielder Shannon MacMillan, but her shot from close range was deflected for a corner kick.

In the 63d minute, Milbrett nutmegged Kvitland and raced in at Nordby, but the keeper closed the angle and got a hand on the shot to knock it down. In the 79th minute, a long cross from Hamm on the right wing flew over Milbrett at near post to Kristine Lilly, who made solid contact on her volley but spun her shot wide right of the goal.

In the final five minutes, Norway mounted a furious run for an equalizer, but could not put one past Mullinix. She came out of her goal in the 86th minute and collided with Mellgren, then banged into Linda Ormen two minuutes later, but came up with the ball both times.

In the 89th minute, Mullinix punched clear off a corner kick, then denied the speedy Mellgren again by diving at her feet to gather in the ball.

"I was definitely big-time nervous for first 10 minutes of both halves," said Mullinix, who ended the game with a large bump and small gash above her right eye from a Norwegian cleat. "You have the pressure of never winning this tournament and then we are up by a goal. But for me, once I get into a game and make my first save, I settle down. I feel like I'm at my best in a game environment."

In addition to China capturing the bronze medal over Sweden 1-0, Canada beat Denmark 1-0 to take fifth place. Finland took seventh, blanking Portugal 3-0.

United States 1, Norway 0

Lineups: United States - Siri Mullinix, Joy Fawcett, Carla Overbeck - captain (Danielle Slaton 58), Kate Sobrero, Brandi Chastain, Lorrie Fair, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Shannon MacMillan (Sara Whalen 78), Mia Hamm (Cindy Parlow 82), Tiffeny Milbrett. Norway - Bente Nordby, Bente Kvitland (Kristin Bekkevold 70), Goril Kringen - captain (Ragnhild Gulbrandsen 83), Anne Tonnessen, Britt Saudaune, Hege Riise, Solveig Gulbrandesen (Silje Jorgensen 49), Anita Rapp (Linda Ormen 46), Dagney Mellgren, Margunn Haugenes (Elisabeth Fagereng 46), Unni Lehn.

Scoring:
United States - Chastain (penalty kick) 9.

Shots: United States 8, Norway 10. Saves: United States 5, Norway 3. Corner kicks: United States 4, Norway 6. Fouls: United States 2, Norway 7. Offside: United States 5, Norway 1. Yellow card cautions: United States - Hamm 45; Norway - Kringen 12.

Referee: Ingrid Jonsson (Sweden). Assistant referees: Susanne Borg (Sweden), Marie-Louis Svanstrom (Sweden). Attendance: 850 at Municipal Stadium in Loule, Portugal. Weather: Clear skies, sunny, breezy, 81 degrees.

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