Aug. 09, 2008, 6:57 a.m. (ET)

QINHUANGDAO, China (AP) Midfielder Carli Lloyd scored on a first-half volley to lead the U.S. women's soccer team to a 1-0 win over Japan and put the Americans' Olympic title defense back on track at the Beijing Games.

The U.S. looked far from gold-medal form, but did enough against a dangerous Japanese side to pick up a much-needed three points in Group G after dropping its opener against Norway.

The Americans created a host of scoring opportunities, but were only able to capitalize in the 27th minute, when Lloyd volleyed a cross from defender Stephanie Cox just under the crossbar.

The 26-year-old Lloyd pumped her fists as she dashed to the U.S. bench and into the arms of her jumping teammates.

The United States, which plays New Zealand in its final group match on Tuesday in Shenyang, has three points in the group. Japan has one point, and faces Norway next in Shanghai.

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