QINHUANGDAO, China – Norway jumped on the United States from the opening whistle, getting two goals in the first four minutes Wednesday to beat the U.S. women’s soccer team 2-0 at the Beijing Olympics.
Norway looked the like the medal-contenders they’re supposed to be, while the Americans never looked the part.
Laursen Kaurin outjumped and outmuscled U.S. defender Lori Chalupny to head the ball over charging goalkeeper Hope Solo and into an open net in the 2nd minute.
Two minutes later, Wiik latched onto a deep pass on the right side after the U.S lost the ball in midfield. The Norwegian then outraced U.S. captain Christie Rampone and curled a right-footed shot past Solo and just inside the far post.
“We are satisfied,” Norway coach Bjarne Berntsen said. “We are very grateful for the tremendous start we had in this game.”
“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.”
Norway, which handed the U.S. its only other Olympic loss in the 2000 gold-medal match, dominated the first half as a sluggish U.S. side seemed out of sync in the back and lacking creativity up front.
The loss was the first for U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, who took over in November in the fallout of the team’s third-place finish at the 2007 World Cup.
“My glass is always half full, so for us it’s a new experience to lose a game,” Sundhage said, adding that she took heart with her team’s aggressive play after the break.
“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.
Norway’s talented forwards – Solveig Gulbrandsen, Wiik and Larsen Kaurin – proved a handful for the Americans. The trio looked dangerous as they sought to capitalize on the counter as the U.S. pushed forward in the second half.
But the U.S. also seemed to miss leading scorer Abby Wambach, who broke her left leg against Brazil in the team’s final warm-up match.