U.S. Women hammer Denmark 5-0 in Goodwill Games semifinals

Forward Mia Hamm registered her 9th career hat trick as the U.S. women's national team hammered Denmark 5-0 in a 1998 Goodwill Games semifinal. With the win, the U.S. will play in the gold-medal match at 8:30 p.m. July 27 against China -- a rematch of the gold-medal match from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. A stubborn Denmark defense held the U.S. without a shot for the first 18 minutes, and American keeper Briana Scurry did well to turn away a driven shot from Merete Pedersen early on. However, the USA suddenly exploded with a quick series of passes to create the first goal. The foray started when Kristine Lilly's pass put Hamm behind the defense on the left wing. Hamm cut hard toward the goal, then split two defenders with a square pass to Tiffeny Milbrett, who powered her shot past Denmark goalkeeper Christina Jensen from 10 yards out. "Denmark had their chances early in the game," said U.S. coach Tony DiCicco, who saw the Danes take three shots before the USA could launch one of their own. "But we played with a great attacking rhythm, took over the game and scored some great goals." Michelle Akers added a spectacular long-range strike in the 29th minute that shocked as much as delighted the crowd of almost 7,000. After receiving a square pass from Lilly, she took a touch toward goal and unleashed a dipping, knuckling drive from 35 yards that flew into the left corner, giving Jensen no time to react. Hamm, who had a hat trick in the last U.S. match against Germany on June 28, scored the final three U.S. goals to bury the Danes. She got her big night started on the stroke of halftime, running onto a through ball from Lilly and lifting the ball over Jensen into the right corner of the goal from seven yards out. She scored her second in the 70th minute when substitute Shannon MacMillan ran down a ball on the left side of the penalty box and crossed just before falling over the end line. Hamm out-battled a defender for the ball and blasted her shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards away. She completed the hat trick just five minutes later when she ran onto a long pass from defender Christie Pearce, out-muscled a defender, rounded the sprawling Jensen, and slid the ball into an open net from 10 yards out. "One thing we did real well today was finish, said Hamm. "That takes the heart out of the other team." The three scores gave Hamm 95 career goals in 151 games, as she joins Akers (97 goals) in pursuit of the historic 100-goal milestone and the world scoring record of 101 career goals, held by Italy's now-retired Carolina Morace. "We know [Hamm] is a fantastic player," said Denmark coach Jorgen Hvidemose. "But it is not her alone. Other players create space for her and allow her to score goals. It is wrong to talk about Hamm only, they play together and her success is a function of overall team play." In the first semifinal, defending Women's World Cup champion Norway took the lead in the 75th minute on a breakaway goal from Marianne Pettersen, but China tied the match just three minutes later when Fan Yunjie headed in a corner kick from Zhao Lihong. Tied at the end of regulation play, the match went directly to penalty kicks with China prevailing, 4-2. "China is an outstanding team," added DiCicco. "They are very technical, well coached and skilled at every position with individual personalities all over the field, so if someone wants to see women's soccer at its best, they should be here Monday night." July 25 in Uniondale, N.Y. USA 5 Denmark 0. Goals: Milbrett 18, Akers 29, Hamm 45, 70, 75. USA -- Scurry, Fair, Overbeck, Sobrero (Pearce, 69), Fawcett, Chastain, Foudy (Venturini, 70), Akers (Parlow, 46), Lilly (MacMillan, 69), Milbrett (Keller, 63), Hamm. Denmark -- C.Jensen, B.Christensen, Terp, Kristensen, K.Christensen (H.S. Christensen, 44), K.Pedersen, Hansen, M.Pedersen (L.Jensen, 59), Neilsen, Petersen (Rasmussen, 56), Axelsen (Sondergaard, 78). Yellow cards: none. Referee: Johnny Jerome (Canada). Att.: 6,970.
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