Soccer  > General Soccer  > Morgan propels USA past Italy
November 22, 2010, 11:30 AM
PADOVA, Italy - Alex Morgan scored a dramatic winner as the USA defeated Italy, 1-0, in the opener of a two-leg playoff for the last place at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Morgan entered the game near the end of regulation and her introduction could not have been more punctual. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, the 21-year-old found the back of the net from six-yards out with a classy strike off an assist from Abby Wambach.

After finishing a disappointing third in CONCACAF Women's World Cup qualifying, the two-time World Champions now need only a draw in the second leg on Nov. 27 in Bridgeview, Ill, to claim a spot next year in Germany.

With an unrelenting defensive effort, the underdog hosts gave the crowd of 5,000 at the Stadio Euganeo hope that an upset was possible. The Americans held a 19-6 advantage in shots, but the most action-packed period of the afternoon came near the end of the game.

The USA had three cracks at the net from inside 12 yards. The first one from Morgan was blocked by an Italian defender. The ball went to Wambach and her left-footed strike was blocked as well. Then, the rebound rolled to forward Lauren Cheney, whose right-footed shot clanged off the left post.

That sequence set the stage for heroics from Morgan, who now has eight caps and four goals, including two at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament earlier this month. The striker also scored the winning goal in the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup final.

The matches against Italy mark the first time the U.S. Women have participated in a playoff to qualify for a FIFA Women's World Cup, having advanced directly from the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in each previous attempt.

The 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup will take place from June 26-July 17 in nine venues across Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, M??nchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen.
 
November 24, 2010  12:21 PM ET

Well done team USA!

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