The United States beat Denmark 2-0 in women’s World Cup soccer to all but clinch a spot in the next round.
The Americans could be without goalkeeper Briana Scurry for the next two outings because of a controversial call.
Kristine Lilly and Tiffeny Milbrett had goals as the defending world champions shut out Denmark Thursday to nearly clinch a quarterfinal berth.
Scurry was ejected with only 6 minutes left. She stepped too far out of the 18-yard box, pounding the ball and apparently carried it over the line on the follow through.
Referee Mamadouba Camara of Guinea flashed the red card.
“I don’t agree with that call,” said U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco. “Maybe it’s a hand ball. Maybe if the goalkeeper is trying to seek an unfair advantage, it might be a yellow card, but I think it’s really harsh for a red card.”
U.S. team officials filed a formal protest. Scurry could be suspended two games if the decision stands.
“There is no way that an athlete should be put out of the championship for a referee’s misinterpretation.”
Danish coach Keld Gantzhorn agreed with DiCicco.
“The red card was very hard,” said Gantzhorn, adding that Danish officials would support the U.S. protest.
The victory gave the United States a 1-0-1 record and four points in Group C. China, which tied the Americans 3-3 in the opener, beat winless Australia 4-2 in Vasteras, Sweden, and also has four points
Norway, beaten 2-1 by the United States in the 1991 final, blanked England 2-0 in Karlstad for its second straight win to wrap up a quarterfinal berth from Group B.
England kept second with three points. Nigeria rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie Canada 3-3 in the other Group B game in Helsingborg, both teams earning their first point.
Lilly, one of nine returning members of the team that won the inaugural 1991 championship in China, scored on a header in the eighth minute after a corner kick by Carin Gabarra.
Milbrett, who came off the bench to score one goal against China, made it 2-0 in the 49th minute, sidefooting the ball with a low shot past the Danish goalie.
Mia Hamm, who had an outstanding game for the Americans, set up the goal with a long pass down the field. She also took over in goal when Scurry was ejected.
The United States could easily have won by a bigger margin, wasting a half dozen scoring chances. But its shots were a little bit off target and Danish goalie Dorthe Larsen also turned in several dazzling saves.
“We’re really pleased with the result,” DiCicco said. “We played hard. We played tactically very intelligently and made our chances when we had.
“Denmark is a leading team. They have some outstanding, young players. Helly Jensen is one of the best in the world. They’ve been scoring a lot of goals so we had to contain those players and I we were fortunate to do it tonight.”
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