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Lehnís goal in fifth minute sends Norway to 1-0 victory in Four Nations tourney.

HUADU, China (Wednesday, January 23, 2002) -- Norwegian midfielder Unni Lehn scored in the fifth minute and her teammates made it stand up in a 1-0 triumph over the United States before approximately 10,000 at the Four Nations Tournament at Huadu Stadium today.

China defeated Germany 2-1 in the other match to open this round robin event.

The U.S. dominated the final 70 minutes against Norway to no avail. As was the case in the last meeting between the full squads of these two nations, the 2000 Summer Olympics final, the U.S. outshot Norway by a considerable margin -- 17-7 -- but suffered a setback.

"We are very disappointed in the loss and very disappointed in our performance in the first 20 minutes," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "We were dominant in the air and outshot them by a wide margin yet we were down 1-0. Norway is a great team and they play smart. They simplify the game and stick to their game plan. Their result puts them in great position to win the tournament."

Norway played a 4-5-1 formation with Dagny Mellgren of the Womenís United Soccer Association Boston Breakers as the lone player up top with the aim to get the Americans to play balls into the packed midfield. By the time the U.S. settled into an attacking rhythm, Norway led 1-0.

Mellgren managed to get behind the U.S. back line as a player on the far side held her onside. Racing in on goal with a 10-yard head start, Mellgren cut a crisp pass on the ground back to Lehn who had time to collect the ball before tucking into the left corner past U.S. goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene for a 1-0 lead.

From there, the U.S. established dominance and Norway could muster only five more shots. The only real danger came from Mellgren who lurked on the U.S. restraining line and was dangerous on several counterattacks. Beene had to charge out once to smother a ball at Mellgren's feet.

Forwards Cindy Parlow and Tiffeny Milbrett consistently beat Norwegian defenders on the perimeter of the penalty area, but could not turn their hard work into goals.

In the 11th minute, Parlow worked herself free in the left side of the box and slipped a pass to Milbrett, but her close-range strike from a bad angle was saved by sliding Norway goalkeeper Astrid Johannessen. In the 32nd minute, Parlow once again beat several defenders before slipping the ball to U.S. midfielder Julie Foudy at the 18-yeard-line. Foudy, who was celebrating her 31st birthday, saw her shot tipped over the crossbar.

"On the positive side, we created a lot of opportunities and dominated the second half," Foudy said. "But Norway is too good a team and too organized for us to give up an early goal. We came out a bit flat and paid for it."

The U.S. shut down Norway's aerial game, winning the vast majority of head balls, led by defender Danielle Slaton. One minute before halftime, Parlow danced her way through defenders in the right side of the penalty area, but chipped her shot just wide left of the post.

U.S. striker Shannon MacMillan nearly tied the game in the 63rd minute, slicing a shot wide right with Johannessen beaten. In the 75th minute, Parlow got around the left side of the Norwegian defense and played a pass back in the slot to midfielder Kristine Lilly, but she volleyed her shot high over the goal.

The final two U.S. chances were both courtesy of reserve midfielder Wagner who sprang Milbrett twice in the last five minutes. In the 85th minute, Milbrett crossed to a cutting Parlow at the near post, but she flicked her shot just wide left of the goal. In the 88th minute, Wagner sent a delicate chip to a streaking Milbrett behind the defense, but her effort bounced outside of the right post.

China defeated Germany on goals by Zhang Ouying and Pu Wei in the 44th and 85th minutes despite playing with 10 women after American referee Keri Seitz ejected Chinese defender Zhou Xiaoxia in the 35th minute for a nasty foul from behind on Birgit Prinz.

German defender Ariane Hingst headed in a free kick near the end.

"We think we are still in this thing," said Heinrichs of her team's chances in the tournament. "We need to get a result against Germany, but China and Norway have a storied history of knocking each other off. If China can win that match, it could set up a championship game for us in our last game. It could come down to goal difference."

Norway 1, United States 0

Lineups: United States United States - LaKeysia Beene, Kate Sobrero (Cat Reddick 46), Joy Fawcett, Danielle Slaton, Brandi Chastain (Kylie Bivens 66), Kristine Lilly, Lorrie Fair (Aleisha Cramer 46), Julie Foudy (captain), Shannon MacMillan (Aly Wagner 66), Cindy Parlow, Tiffeny Milbrett. Norway - Astrid Johannessen, Brit Sandaune, Anne Bugge-Paulsen, Anne Tonnessen, Bente Kvitland, Hege Riise (captain), Solveig Gulbrandsen (Lisa Klaveness 82), Trine Ronning, Unni Lehn, Linda Ormen (Anita Rapp 87), Dagny Mellgren.

Scoring:
Norway - Lehn (Mellgren) 5.

Shots: United States 17, Norway 7. Shots on goal: United States 5, Norway 4. Saves: United States 3, Norway 5. Corner kicks: United States 7, Norway 1 Fouls: United States 7, Norway 9. Offside: United States 1, Norway 5. Yellow card cautions: Norway - Kvitland 80.

Referee: Zhang Dongqing (China) Assistant referees: Christine Frai (Germany), Fu Hongjue (China). Attendance: 10,000 at Huadu Stadium in Huadu China. Weather: Chilly, gray, 55 degrees.

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