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Brandi on board

Chastain nets game-winner to push U.S. past Norway

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Posted: Saturday March 18, 2000 08:20 PM

  Joy Fawcett and the U.S. barely scraped by Unni Lehn and Norway during the Algarve Cup final. AP

LOULE, Portugal (AP) -- On its sixth try, the U.S. women's team finally won the Algarve Cup.

Brandi Chastain, who scored the winning goal during penalty kicks in last summer's World Cup final, converted a penalty in the ninth minute Saturday as the Americans beat Norway 1-0.

"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," said April Heinrichs, who took over as U.S. coach earlier this year. "The focus was here this time."

Norway, a four-time winner of this prestigious tournament, beat the Americans twice this earlier year in exhibition games in Florida.

"April talked about this game being basically about rolling up your sleeves, getting your fingernails dirty and getting the job done," U.S. star Mia Hamm said. "I think everyone played extremely well. The back line, along with Julie Foudy and Lorrie Fair, was tremendous and they were all so organized."

Hamm created the situation that led to the penalty kick, intercepting a back header from Norwegian defender Bente Kvitland to goalkeeper Bente Nordby. Hamm raced into the penalty area, put the ball around Nordby and was cut down by the goalkeeper.

Swedish referee Ingrid Johnsson awarded the penalty and Chastain took it, her first since the World Cup winner.

"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," Heinrichs said.

Norway almost tied it two minutes into the second half, but Dagny Mellgren missed from a sharp angle.

U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix, playing in just her fifth international game, punched out a corner kick in the 89th minute.

"I was definitely big-time nervous for first 10 minutes of both halves," Mullinix said. "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."

Norway beat the Americans in the first final of this tournament in 1994. Last year, China beat the United States in the final.

The Algarve Cup, staged in southern Portugal, is seen as a tune-up for the Sydney Olympics.

China beat Sweden 1-0 in the third-place game, Canada defeated Denmark 1-0 for fifth and Finland beat Portugal 3-0, leaving the host nation in last place.


 
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U.S. women dominate Portugal 7-0
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