Football: United States eclipse Brazil

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CINDY PARLOW scored an early goal, Brianna Scurry preserved the lead with a couple of vital saves and Michelle Akers buried a penalty kick in the 80th minute as the United States reached the final of the women's World Cup with a 2-0 win over Brazil here on Sunday.

The US, which won the inaugural Women's World Cup in 1991, becomes the first host country to reach the final, to be held on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. There they will meet China, who crushed the defending champions, Norway, 5-0 in the other semi-final at Foxboro, Massachusetts, also on Sunday.

Parlow's opener for the US was an opportunistic effort in the fifth minute. Midfielder Julie Foudy sent a cross to the left side that Brazilian goalkeeper, Maravilha, touched but could not hold and Parlow headed in from close range in front of a sell-out crowd of 74,000.

Brazil pushed forward in search of an equaliser with increasing desperation as the game went on, and the United States took advantage with 10 minutes left. Akers headed a ball ahead to Mia Hamm, who cut in from the left only to be brought down in the penalty area by Elene. Akers waited patiently before burying the resulting penalty and sending her side into the final.

At Foxboro, China booked their passage to the final in emphatic fashion at the expense of the defending champions, Norway.

Attacking at will and utilising overlapping runs down the wings to exploit an overtaxed Norwegian defence, China dominated the entire match, with Sun Wen and Liu each scoring twice, and Ailing sealing the rout.

Wen's double, which included a 72nd-minute penalty, took her overall goal tally for the tournament to seven, making her the joint leading scorer alongside Sissi of Brazil.

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