The defending champion United States, led by Mia Hamm, rallied from one goal down to beat Australia 4-1 Saturday in Helsinborg, Sweden, to win its first-round group in women’s World Cup soccer.
China, which defeated Denmark 3-1 at Vasteras, Sweden, finished with an identical 2-0-1 record. The Americans topped the standings on a better goal differential.
The United States will play Japan in the quarterfinals Tuesday in Gavle, Sweden, where the team played its first two roundrobin games.
The Americans, already safe in the quarters before the round-robin finale, turned in a furious finish on a windy and chilly day at Olympia Stadium. The team scored all four goals in the last 29 minutes of the match.
“It was sheer determination today,” said forward Hamm, who set up two goals and drew a penalty that led to a third.
The defensive-minded Australians, eliminated from the championship’s knockout phase before the match, connected on their first dangerous chance as the unmarked Lisa Casagrande headed in Angela Iannotta’s cross in the 55th minute.
The goal brought life to a relatively dull match.
Eight minutes later, Hamm forced a corner kick after a dazzling solo run, dribbling past three defenders. Hamm took the corner and Julie Foudy, who had come off the bench 3 minutes earlier, tied it at 1 with a header.
Joy Fawcett made it 2-1 in the 71st minute, knocking in a rebound from close range after a shot by Kristine Lilly.
Carla Overbeck, the sweeper and captain on the U.S. team, converted a penalty to make it 3-1 in the 88th minute after Hamm was fouled inside the box.
Hamm then set up a the fourth goal in injury time with a pass to Debbie Keller, another substitute.
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