WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Meghan Klingenberg – not Hope Solo – made the biggest save of the night for the United States.
Klingenberg, a diminutive defender, leaped to head a shot by Sweden’s Caroline Seger. The ball hit the crossbar and caromed away from the goal.
Goal-line technology was used to confirm the ball didn’t completely cross the line.
The save in the 77th minute preserved the 0-0 draw with Sweden on Friday night in one of the most anticipated group-stage matches at the Women’s World Cup.
“Brilliant,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said of Klingenberg’s heroics. “Believe it or not, we actually practice that.”
The match had been hyped beforehand as the showdown between the second-ranked United States and former coach Pia Sundhage, now coach of No. 5 Sweden. It did not disappoint in the furious second half.
Abby Wambach came off the bench, but her header in the 72nd minute was popped up and over the crossbar by Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
A win would have assured theUnited States a spot in the knockout round as the Americans seek their third World Cup title, but first since 1999. The U.S. advanced to the final four years ago, but lost to Japan on penalty kicks.
The United States has one more group stage match, on Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia, against Nigeria. Sweden heads to Edmonton, Alberta, for its final group match with Australia. The monthlong tournament, with an expanded field of 24 teams, is being played in six Canadian cities.
The U.S. leads the Group D standings with four points, following a 3-1 victory over No. 10 Australia in the opener. Sweden was surprised in its opener by No. 33 Nigeria, which erased a 2-0 halftime deficit for a 3-all tie.
The Matildas defeated Nigeria 2-0 earlier on Friday.
Ellis tinkered with her lineup for the match against Sweden, starting 22-year old Morgan Brian while Wambach was on the bench.
Wambach did give the U.S. a spark after entering in the 68th minute, but couldn’t get past Lindahl, who was named player of the match.
Klingenberg, who is 5-foot-2, saved Seger’s shot while Solo was on the other side of the goal.
“That was something we practiced this week,” Klingenberg said. “I know that when Hope slides across, I need to tuck in and make sure I’m in position. Luckily I did and I was able to make the play when I needed to.”
Lindahl came up with her first big save of the match when she leaped to pop Carli Lloyd’s shot over the bar early in the second half.
Australia 2, Nigeria 0: Kyah Simon scored twice to lead Australia to a Group D victory over Nigeria in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Switzerland 10, Ecuador 1: Fabienne Humm and Ramona Bachmann both had second-half hat tricks as Switzerland earned its first women’s World Cup victory with a Group C victory over Ecuador at Vancouver, British Columbia.
Japan 2, Cameroon 1: Aya Sameshima scored in the sixth minute as defending champion Japan became the first team to secure a berth in the knockout stage with a victory over Cameroon in Group C play in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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