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Lilly's two goals defeat China 2-0 and win Four Nations crown.

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U.S. women

Lilly hits another milestone in 5-0 romp over Denmark in Algarve Cup.

QUARTEIRA, Portugal (Saturday, March 11, 2006) -- Striker Kristine Lilly moved into second place all-time among international women's goal-scorers, helping the United States women roll to a 5-0 triumph over Denmark in Group B of the Algarve Cup before 500 at Municipal Stadium today.

The Americans are looking for their fourth consecutive Algarve crown.

After opening the tournament Thursday by drawing 0-0 with China, the U.S. women (1-0-1, 4 points) needed a big victory and it got it. The game was well in hand when Lilly put the Americans ahead 4-0 in the 41st minute.

France (1-0-1, 4) posted a 2-1 decision over China (0-1-1, 1) in today's other Group B match, meaning the U.S. need a victory or tie against France Monday to win Group B and advance to Wednesday's championship game against Germany. The Americans finish first in the group in case of a tie because they have a plus-5 goal differential to plus-1 for France.

"It's a do-or-die situation," U.S. striker Abby Wambach said of the game against France. "We have to win the next game to get to the finals, and if we don't, we have to have more goals than everybody else in our group. . . From a forward's standpoint, scoring goals is our job. If we don't score goals, we've failed. And I think we all went out on the field today having a little bit of that in the back of our minds. So to go out and score four goals in the first half was great for us."

Germany (2-0, 6) has already clinched the Group A title, four points ahead of Norway (0-0-2) with one game remaining.

Lilly's 108th career goal broke a tie and moved her ahead of Italy's Elisabetta Vignotto for second place among women's scorers, trailing only U.S. legend Mia Hamm, who had 158 career goals before retiring.

The U.S. is 11-0-3 since coach Greg Ryan took over as coach from April Heinrichs for the 2005 Algarve Cup. The team has conceded only one goal, a penalty kick, in its last 1,378 minutes, dating back to the end of 2004.

"It's exciting to see how team defense really works," defender Cat Whitehill said. "When you transition from team defense to offense, you win 5-0. But the best part is the zero (goals allowed) and we were able to get a big goal differential heading into the next game, and hopefully make it to the final."

The U.S. jumped to a overwhelming lead by scoring three times in a five-minute span with Heather O-Reilly scoring twice and fellow forward Abby Wambach adding a goal and an assist.

The U.S. outshot the Dames 15-1 in the first half en route to a 22-6 advantage for the match, 9-2 on frame. In the opening 45 minute, the Americans had two goals negated by offside calls, while Wambach alone had three tallies called back because of offside rulings.

"We kept Denmark under pressure constantly and, as soon as we won (the ball), we were into the attack and looking to play behind them early," U.S coach Greg Ryan said. "I think the quality of service from Aly (Wagner) and all the midfielders was fantastic today. We had more runs in behind them and that gave us more chances to get in on a first-ball situation. Once we stretched them, we had room to play underneath, so I think we had a lot of variety in our attack today. It was great."

With a stiff wind at its back, the U.S. sent a long ball to the top right of Denmark's penalty area. Goalkeeper Heidi Johansen was unable to grab it, so a defender tried to clear it only to have to have it held up by a gust. U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx crashed through the middle, taking the ball down with her chest and then lifting over the Danish back-line to Wambach. She volleyed the bouncing ball and slipped it past Johansen into the lower left corner of the net from eight yards out for a 1-0 lead and her 51st career goal in the 26th minute.

O'Reilly, who came up empty despite several good chances against China Thursday, made it 2-0 in the 29th minute when she broke through for the first of her tallies. Midfielder Carli Lloyd, who was making her first start for the Americans in her fourth appearance, carried into the left side of the box, cut back to the middle and bent a rolling shot off the outside of the right post from 15 yards out.

The rebound went Wagner with the midfielder cutting back to the middle before firing a left-footed shot at net that was re-directed by Wambach off the keeper from point-blank range. As Wambach banged into Johansen, the ball momentarily bounced loose in front for a charging O'Reilly to put away from two yards.

O'Reilly, who now has seven international goals, needed two minutes to increase the advantage to 3-0. She streaked behind Denmark's defense to run onto Lilly's ball, lifted over the back-line. From 25 yards out, O'Reilly lobbed the bouncing ball over Johansen who had moved out of her net.

"It feels really good. I've been working hard these last couple of weeks," O'Reilly said. "I feel myself improving as a player, but getting that last final piece I've been working on (is great). So it feels really good to get two in the bag and I'm looking forward to the rest of the tournament.

"I think part of my game as a finisher, I just have to stay relaxed in front of the net. I think that's what I did, especially on the second goal. I was calm and kind of used finesse rather than trying to use pure strength and emotion, and that's just improving as a player I think. . . (On the second goal), I caught (Johansen) way off her line, I just had to use the inside of my foot and knock it right over her head. It was an open net. It's something I've been working on because usually I would just sky that right over."

O'Reilly had several chances for the hat trick, none better than in the 39th minute when she ran under a nice pass from Wagner into the box. O'Reilly controlled the ball, but was shut down by a defender and couldn't get a shot off.

Lilly completed the first-half scoring in the 41st minute after Wagner sent one of her many dangerous passes to Wambach, who elevated above the Danish defense and flicked a header the ball into the left side of the box. Lilly drilled the ball into the right side of the net before Johansen could move to make it 4-0.

"Kristine Lilly is amazing," Ryan said. "You give her that kind of shot, she's scores a world-class goal. You can count on it."

Natasha Kai, replaced Lilly at intermission, and finished the scoring in the 71st minute, becoming the 15th American to score in her first international appearance. She also became the first Hawai'ian to play for the U.S. women.

Kai intercepted a weak back-pass by Danish defender Janne Madsen, carried into the left side of the box and chipped her shot over Johansen from a sharp angle.

"I feel honored. Coming from Hawai'i, it's a dream come true," Kai said. "I never thought I would actually have the opportunity to come here, but Coach Ryan gave me that opportunity and right now I'm just happy for my team. It's not where I come from, it's who you play for, and I play for the U.S., and I'm trying to represent that well."

Goalkeeper Jenni Branam, playing her first match for her national team since July 2000, picked up her first shutout since June of that year. Branam earned her first-ever cap against Denmark at the Algarve Cup in 2000, a 2-1 U.S. win.

Branam grabbed several crosses in heavy traffic and in the second half, was called upon to make two tough saves. She tipped Maiken Pipe's header off a free kick over the crossbar and, in the 65th minute, denied Lene Jensen on Denmark's most dangerous chance of the game. With U.S. defender Cat Whitehill in pursuit, Jensen got behind the American defense and fired a shot from 15 yards out that Branam caught after a dive to her right.

The U.S. won almost every head ball during the game, which became even more important during the second half when the Danes were playing with the wind. Denmark took five shots after the break and earned all four of its corner kicks in the second half, but the match was long decided by then.

"The biggest difference was that the (Denmark) keeper couldn't kick the ball as far (in the first half) and we were able to have Boxxy win those head balls," Whitehill said. "But in the second half, (Denmark) put in a different core group of people and were able to send the balls over the top a lot, and we were running a whole bunch."

In Group A, Germany clinched first place with a 3-0 whitewash of Sweden (0-1-1, 1). Norway lost any chance to moving to the title match with its 0-0 draw with Finland (0-1-1, 1).


United States 5, Denmark 0

Lineups: United States - Jenni Branam, Heather Mitts, Cat Whitehill, Amy LePeilbet, Christie Rampone (Stephanie Lopez 57), Shannon Boxx (Marci Miller 57), Carli Lloyd (Leslie Osborne 73), Aly Wagner (Lindsay Tarpley 46), Heather O'Reilly, Abby Wambach (Amy Rodriguez 64), 13-Kristine Lilly - captain (Natasha Kai 46). Denmark - Heidi Johansen, Katrine Pedersen (captain), Dorte Jensen, Bettina Hansen (Maiken Pape 54), Malene Olsen (Christina Orntoft 46), Louise Hansen, Nanna Johansen (Anne Nielsen 46), Julie Bukh (Johanna Rasmussen 46), Marie Herping (Mariann Knudsen 75), Jane Madsen, Lene Jensen.

Scoring:
United States - Wambach (Boxx) 26.
United States - O'Reilly (Wambach) 29.
United States - O'Reilly (Lilly) 31.
United States - Lilly (Wambach) 41.
United States - Kai (unassisted) 71.

Shots: United States 22, Denmark 6. Shots on goal: United States 9, Denmark 2. Saves: United States 2, Denmark 2. Corner kicks: United States 6, Denmark 4. Fouls: United States 12, Denmark 5. Offside: United States 6, Denmark 2. Yellow card caution: United States - Wambach 52.

Referee:D'Coth Bentla (India). Assistant referees:: Lu Lijuan (China), Yoshizama Hisae (Japan). Fourth official: Kamnueng Pannipar (Thailand). Attendance: 500 at Municipal Stadium in Quarteira, Portugal. Weather: Sunny, windy, 78 degrees.

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