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U.S. edges N. Korea to top Group G in women's soccer

Manchester, England (Sports Network) - The United States clinched top spot in Group G with a 1-0 defeat of North Korea at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Abby Wambach continued her impressive form in women's Olympic Soccer, scoring in each match of the group stage by providing the lone goal in Manchester.

Finishing as Group G winners, the U.S. advances to the quarterfinals where it will play New Zealand, which finished third in Group E with a 3-1 defeat of Cameroon on Tuesday.

The United States put North Korea under heavy pressure from the start and nearly got off the mark in the 15th minute.

Wambach beat her mark on the left flank and squared a ball to Alex Morgan at the top of the box. The 23-year-old made a sharp cut into the penalty area with her first touch and immediately fired a left-footed shot that struck the outside of the far post.

Ten minutes later though, the duo combined once more to put the Americans in front.

Morgan got on the end of a ball played into the box and looked likely to beat North Korean 'keeper O Chang-Ran, but she was forced to compose herself after failing to keep her initial touch under control. It made no difference as Morgan slipped a pass to the feet of Wambach, who beat the offside trap with ease and calmly slotted her shot into the back of the net.

The United States continued to dominate, nearly adding a second goal in the 39th minute. Wambach found space in behind the North Korean defense to meet a low cross with a one-time effort only to be denied by the post.

Tobin Heath entered the match at the start of the second half and came within inches of doubling the lead for the States with her first involvement. She collected a penetrating pass on the left side of the box and found herself one-on-one with O Chang-Ran, but the New Jersey-native chipped her attempt just over the crossbar.

Despite controlling the second period, the Americans could not add to their lead, clinging to a one-goal advantage en route to a perfect 3-0-0 record in group play.

In keeping a clean sheet, the U.S. extended its shutout streak to 256 minutes. The Americans last conceded a goal in their 4-2 defeat of France in the Group G opener.

At the heart of the stout defensive effort is Hope Solo. The American goalkeeper has made headlines recently, taking to Twitter to blast former U.S. Women's National Team star, and current Olympic broadcaster, Brandi Chastain for critical comments made regarding the play of the current team.

But Solo did not let any surrounding controversy prevent her from enjoying Wambach's goal in Manchester.

"Our players wanted to involve me and then all of a sudden they were like 'Do the worm' and I was like 'No,'" Solo said of her celebration, of which she ultimately obliged. "Our team wants to have fun and we're going to remember these moments. I'll be able to say 'Yeah, I did the worm at Old Trafford'. It's the first time I've ever done anything like that on the pitch."

The Olympics have been viewed as a microcosm for current affairs across the globe, but Wambach was quick to quell any notion that America's diplomatic relationship with North Korea caused friction between the teams.

"The beautiful part about what we are doing is that we don't have to worry about any of that," said Wambach. "This is where we can put our differences aside, go out on the pitch and play for glory. That's what we're here for."

In the other Group G match, France claimed a 1-0 victory over Colombia at St. James' Park. Elodie Thomis provided the lone goal, scoring in the 15th minute. The French team controlled large stretches of the match, even hitting the woodwork twice before halftime, but failed to add to their lead.

France finishes second in Group G with six points from three games and advances to the quarterfinals for a date with Sweden. Colombia bows out of the Olympics having failed to score a goal in its three games.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Melissa Tancredi scored twice as Canada rallied for a 2-2 tie against Sweden to clinch a quarterfinal berth. Canada needed at least a draw to secure a spot in the last eight as the third-place squad from Group F. Japan finished second in the group, playing to a scoreless draw with South Africa to end group play with five points.

The conclusion of Group E play Tuesday saw Great Britain claim a 1-0 win over Brazil to finish on nine points while New Zealand booked a spot in the quarterfinals with a comfortable 3-1 win defeat of Cameroon.

Quarterfinal play takes place Friday with Sweden taking on France in Glasgow, the United States squaring off against New Zealand in Newcastle, Brazil facing Japan in Cardiff and Great Britain going against Canada in Coventry.

07/31 17:24:26 ET


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