Originally created 09/26/03

U.S. women blank Nigeria



PHILADELPHIA -- Mia Hamm was unstoppable for the second straight World Cup game, scoring two early goals, then setting up one in the second half as the United States routed Nigeria 5-0 Thursday night.

Hamm treated a crowd of 31,553 to yet another masterful performance. After assisting on all three goals in a 3-1 victory over Sweden on Sunday, soccer's career scoring leader with 144 goals almost single-handedly did in the Nigerians.

Hamm converted a penalty kick in the sixth minute with a shot low to the right corner after Cindy Parlow was knocked down in the area by Nigerian captain Florence Omagbemi.

In the 12th, she sent a 35-yard free kick on a majestic arc and goalkeeper Precious Dede could only get her fingertips on it as the ball settled into the net.

Two minutes later, Hamm nearly had a hat trick - her twisting shot from the left wing barely missed. She also hit the goal post in the second half.

Nigeria had a goal disallowed on a very close offsides call seconds after Hamm's miss. Otherwise, with rare exceptions, the Americans controlled the pace and possession.

Parlow got her second goal of the tournament two minutes into the second half. It was an almost exact duplicate of her goal against Sweden as she headed home Hamm's corner kick.

After playing a part in all three goals - she was fouled before Hamm's free-kick score - Parlow left for Tiffeny Milbrett in the 57th minute.

Abby Wambach scored her first World Cup goal in the 65th on a perfect cross from Kristine Lilly. Julie Foudy connected on a penalty kick in the 89th.

The Americans took the lead in Group A with six points, but have not clinched a quarterfinal spot. They play North Korea on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, needing only a tie to advance.

Nigeria, which lost to North Korea in its opener, was eliminated. Bunmi Kayode was taken off on a stretcher in the final moments, her head immobilized, after she collided with Wambach. There was no immediate report on her condition.

In their previous two meetings, the United States won 7-1 in the 1999 World Cup and 3-1 in the 2000 Olympics. This one never was in doubt, either.

Coach April Heinrichs pulled a mild surprise by not starting bruising forward Wambach, instead substituting a fourth midfielder, playmaker Aly Wagner. Another World Cup rookie, Kylie Bivens, started on defense for Christie Pearce.

Cat Reddick, the only U.S. collegian on the team, replaced injured Brandi Chastain and was very solid on the back line.