Norway beats US; Germans draw with Brazil
SHANGHAI, China(AP) Norway outplayed the defending Olympic champion United States 2-0 on Wednesday and women's football gave the Beijing Games an opening day of top quality comebacks, performances and goals.
Other gold medal contenders Germany and Brazil drew 0-0 in a game that could well have finished 2-2 and host China edged Sweden 2-1.
In a meeting of the only two teams to have won the Olympic women's title, 2000 champion Norway looked far better than the 1996 and 2004 gold medalist Americans in Qinhuangdao and scored twice in the first four minutes.
Leni Laursen Kaurin headed the first goal after only two minutes and Melissa Wiik added the second two minutes later.
``We are very grateful for the tremendous start we had in this game,'' Norway coach Bjarne Berntsen said. ``After the great start, I think we played a very, very good defensive game, and there were very few big chances for the United States.''
The Americans, who have been in all three Olympic finals, are aiming to bounce back by beating Japan on Saturday.
``My glass is always half full, so for us it's a new experience to lose a game,'' said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. ``I'm happy that it's the first game and not the last, so we still have two more games to go, and we'll take out this part - the second half - for when we play against Japan and New Zealand.''
In the other Group G game, Japan rallied from two goals down to draw 2-2 with debutant New Zealand so that Norway tops the standings. After Kirsty Yallop and Amber Hearn's penalty had given New Zealand a comfortable lead by the 57th minute, Japan hit back through midfielders Aya Miyama and Homare Sawa.
With just a few thousand fans scattered around the Shenyang Olympic Stadium, World Cup finalists Germany and Brazil played their opening Group F game as if it were the final.
Marta, who has established herself as the game's top player, set up a great heading chance for strike partner Cristiane who missed from close range. Germany's Sandra Simek hit the bar at the other end.
Smisek fired wide after being put clear by Birgit Prinz and Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer pushed a powerful angled shot from Cristiane around the post. From the corner, Renata Costa headed against the post.
Marta then missed the best chance of the game, side-footing wide of the German goal in the 69th minute.
``I think it was a good game for our team. The defense was perfect. We did quite well covering Marta,'' Germany coach Silvia Neid said.
In the other Group F game in the same stadium, North Korea beat Nigeria 1-0 thanks to a goal by Kim Kyong Wa and tops the standings after the first round of games. Nigeria faces Germany and North Korea meets Brazil on Saturday.
Han Duan scored China's deflected winner in Tianjin after Sweden threatened to silence the home fans at the TJ Olympic Center. After Xu Yuan had given China a sixth minute lead, Lotta Schelin equalized in the 38th.
Canada edged Argentina 2-1 in the other Group E match and scored probably the best goal of the opening day.
Candace Chapman scored with a low shot from 30 meters after Argentina failed to clear a 27th minute corner. Kara Lang added a second in the 72nd and Mariela Coronel's strike five minutes from the end was little more than consolation.
``Overall, we're a very strong, physical team. That's kind of our style,'' Chapman said. ``Them being small, they probably got the worst of it.''
The results mean that China and Canada are level atop the group ahead of their meeting on Saturday.