Algarve Cup Round-Up: Day 1
By Kara McDermott
GROUP A: Upsets Abound
If rankings were predictors, the first day of matches would have turned out very differently. In Parchal, 12th ranked Norway put two on the board before current World Cup Champions and third-ranked Japan could spark a resurgence. The Norwegians held them off though and finished the day on top of the group with their 2-0 victory.
See Match Report: Norway Stun World Cup Champions
A few towns east, second-ranked Germany played to a scoreless tie with 13th ranked Denmark in Albufeira. Denmark could do both of them a favor by beating Norway in the next round, and if Germany did the same to Japan, the Olympic silver medalists would be out of contention entirely while the rest of the teams made the final group round very interesting.
GROUP B: Goals for 100 Cappers
Over in group B, the story didn’t change that much. Sweden, ranked sixth, had to battle back against the lowest ranked team in the top two groups: China, ranked 17th. Even while controlling the run of play, a suprise goal meant they had to battle to save their Algarve chances.
That saving goal came from Sara Thunebro, who was playing in her 100th game for the Swedish National Team. The goal was incredible, but not entirely satisfying to her:
“After a few minutes after the game I’m just disappointed to lose two points instead of winning three.”
See Match Report: Sweden and China Play to a Draw
The US match was less puzzling in its final score, as they overcame a scoreless first half to complete the game up 3-0 over Iceland.
The frustration of missed opportunities gave way to unmitigated happiness when Rachel Buehler, wearing the captain’s band in honor of also playing in here 100th game got a goal in the 48th minute after running onto a corner kick and flicking the ball with her head towards the back post.
Shannon Boxx followed suit in the 62nd minute by finishing a ping-pong series of four headers finally into the back of the net.
Newly signed Portland Thorns player Alex Morgan did most of the work on the final goal in the 74th minute by intercepting a lazy back pass to the keeper and getting enough of her foot on it to pass it across to Abby Wambach running on to the sitter in the middle of the goal line.
Mexico 1:0 Hungary (MEX: Renae Cuellar 37′)
Portugal 2:0 Wales (POR: Edite Fernandes 37′ – penalty, 74′)
The US is currently sitting at the top of the standing, beating Norway out by nature of scoring more goals. Iceland is last with Japan not too far off. They will both need wins in the next round and some help from others to have a shot at the cup.
The next round is on Friday March 8.
Group A Matches
Germany versus Japan
Norway versus Denmark
Group B Matches
China versus USA
Iceland versus Sweden