US rebound to finish third
© Foto-net

Abby Wambach was once again USA's heroine as Greg Ryan's side put their on-and-off-field troubles behind them to take bronze and deny Norway a place on the China 2007 podium.

Wambach's opportunistic brace was the highlight of a match dominated by a clinical American side for whom Lori Chalupny and Heather O'Reilly also found the target, with Ragnhild Gulbrandsen's subsequent header of little consolation to Bjarne Berntsen's Norwegians.

The US held the upper hand from the outset, with Kristine Lilly - playing her final FIFA Women's World Cup match - providing a touch of class during some fast and furious early exchanges with a curling left-foot shot that fizzed just over. Yet, just as Lilly and Co appeared to be taking a grip on proceedings, Solveig Gulbrandsen carved out the best chance of the opening half, crossing for 22-year-old Melissa Wiik to head wide on her first China 2007 start.

Wambach was to prove considerably more clinical at the other end with 30 minutes played, applying the deftest of touches to flick the ball past the wrong-footed Bente Nordby after Chalupny had returned a half-cleared corner towards goal. The striker's ecstatic celebration betrayed the Americans' relief at putting a week of in-fighting behind them, and Wambach again showed that her predatory instincts are as sharp as ever within a minute of the second half kicking off when she prodded home from close range after Cat Whitehill's initial effort had come back off the post.

The US already had a firm grip on the bronze by this stage and any lingering doubts were removed within two minutes just prior to the hour-mark as Ryan's side moved three and then four in front. The first of these two goals arrived in somewhat fortuitous fashion, Ingvild Stensland's attempted clearance rebounding back into the net off Chalupny, while the fourth was hardly a work of art either, O'Reilly scrambling the ball home from two yards.

Not that any of that mattered to a team who had succeeded in proving a point to the watching world, and though Ragnhild Gulbrandsen provided some comfort for Norway with a superb arching header to reduce arrears on 63 minutes, it is the Americans who maintained their proud record in this competition of never having finished outside the top three.

Player of the Match: Lori Chalupny (USA)