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Americans beat chippy Brazil, 1-0

THE BALTIMORE SUN

CANBERRA, Australia - Bruce Stadium howled. The boos got louder and louder as the minutes passed yesterday, and when the match was over and the U.S. women's soccer team had a 1-0 semifinal victory over Brazil, they reached their peak.

"Who cares?" said U.S. defender Kate Sobrero. "We're going to the gold-medal game."

Thanks to Mia Hamm's controversial goal in the 60th minute, the Americans advanced to Thursday's final. They will play Norway, the team they dominated, 2-0, in the opener but also the only team that has a winning record against them all-time, 13-12-1.

Still, the Americans are lucky they aren't going to the infirmary or, worse, the bronze-medal game. They played a sloppy match, often leaving Sobrero and the defense to chase Brazil's fast forwards.

The teams got four yellow cards each and 41 penalties, 23 to the United States and 18 to Brazil. Meanwhile, the Brazilians held huge advantages in corner kicks (12-3) and shots (15-6).

Hamm bore the burden of the Brazilians' attention, so perhaps it was appropriate then that Hamm scored the way she did. Defender Brandi Chastain booted the ball from the back, midfielder Lorrie Fair headed it ahead and forward Tiffeny Milbrett crashed into the goalie, Andreia, along with a defender, Juliana. The ball bounced to the left side of the cage. Hamm tapped it out of midair and in.

Hamm had her revenge.

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