USA dominated New Zealand throughout a 4-0 victory on a day when everything went their way in Group G. The result, coupled with Norway's shock defeat by Japan, means the Americans pipped their Scandinavian rivals for top spot in the section and avoided a quarter-final meeting with Brazil.
It took just 40 seconds for Heather O'Reilly to score the fastest goal in the history of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament, and thereafter it was all one-way traffic. Shannon Boxx had two attempts on goal from outside the box, and Lindsay Tarplay came close to doubling her team's lead, teasing her way in from the left before firing against the post.
With halt-time approaching, Pia Sundhage's side made it 2-0. Taking a long ball over the top into her stride, Amy Rodriguez arrowed the ball into the bottom-left corner of Jenny Bindon's goal from the edge of the box.
New Zealand quickly got into gear following the restart, with Kirsty Yallop piercing through the US midfield and using a clever slide-rule pass to put Amber Fearn through on goal. The No9 looked favourite to reduce the deficit, but her tame effort was easily saved by Hope Solo.
It was the wake-up call USA needed and after Bindon had been drawn out of position due to blocking shots by Amy Rodriguez and O'Reilly, Tarplay guided the ball into the unguarded net to make it 3-0. Shortly after, Lori Chalupny cut in from the left and fired the ball against the crossbar. The rebound fell to Angela Hucles, whose strike found the back of the net despite the New Zealand keeper getting hands to the ball.
USA continued to monopolise possession, but they seemed quite content to hold out for a victory that, improbably, proved enough for them to finish atop the pool. New Zealand, by contrast, ended the first-phase at the foot of Group G.