Norway win women's soccer with golden goal
Norway won the women's Olympic soccer title when they beat reigning Olympic and World Champions the United States 3-2 with a dramatic golden goal winner on Thursday.
Substitute Dagny Mellgren scored the decisive goal after 102 minutes of a pulsating match which saw the U.S. force extra time with an equaliser 20 seconds from the end.
There was a hint of handball about Mellgren's winner although it was more a case of ball to arm -- which is legal -- after it bounced off American defender Joy Fawcett.
American goalkeeper Siri Mullinix, at fault for Norway's second goal, was slow to get down to Mellgren's shot which slid under her arm and into the net to give Norway its first gold medal of the Games.
The match represents an end of an era for the American women's team. Not only have they lost the Olympic title they won in 1996, but Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and July Foudy who have all done so much to popularise women's football in the U.S., are all set to retire.
They thought they were going out winners - but they have to be content with the silver medal.
EARLY GOAL INSPIRES U.S.
The U.S. took only five minutes to take the lead after skipper Foudy set up Hamm wide on the left. She fought off a determined challenge from Goeril Kringen, widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the women's game, to lay a perfect ball back to Tiffeny Milbrett.
With goalkeeper Nordby having committed herself out wide, Milbrett shot left-footed first time into the empty net to put the Americans ahead.
Foudy went close to doubling the lead after 29 minutes when she headed against the top of the Norwegian bar, but Norway gradually played their way back into contention and finally scored a deserved equaliser a minute before the break.
Hege Riise's corner came to defender Gro Espeseth and she powered home a header with Shannon Macmillan's leg helping it into the net.
Nordby made a series of good saves as the Americans dominated for most of the second half -- but a mistake at the other end allowed Norway to take the lead against the run of play after 78 minutes.
American keeper Siri Mullinix came for, but missed, a high cross from Margunn Haugenes and Ragnhild Gulbrandsen sent a looping header into the net to put Norway 2-1 up.
With the Norwegian bench and their fans ready to celebrate, the U. S. pulled level with less than 20 seconds to play.
Hamm launched one last attack with another high cross deep into the Norwegian box. For once Nordby stayed back, allowing her defenders to clear, but Milbrett rose above them and scored with the late dramatic equaliser that sent the game into extra time.
Just before the end, a fan broke through the security cordon and climbed onto the crossbar of the goal the Americans were defending before police and security officers escorted the person away. The match was not disrupted.
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