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Jun 28, 2011

Sweden, USA make winning starts

Second-half strikes from Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler helped the United States recover from a slow start to beat North Korea 2-0 in their Group C opener at the Women's World Cup.

The Korean's started well and their slick passing and pace troubled the United States back four during the fourth meeting between these two teams at the FIFA finals.

There was very little to separate both sides in the opening half with the best chance falling to Kim Su Gyong, but American goalkeeper Hope Solo did well to turn her shot around the post.

After the break, United States took control with forward Cheney finishing off a swift move with a well-timed header before Buehler converted with 14 minutes to go to give the most experienced team in the tournament a winning start.

USA coach Pia Sundhage said: "You play your first 45 minutes in a World Cup and after those 45 you start knocking the ball around a bit better. We did a good job. It's good to have this result because it is so much easier going forward."

Earlier in the day, a second-half goal from forward Jessica Landstrom's handed Sweden a much-deserved 1-0 victory over Colombia in their Group C opener at the Women's World Cup.

Sweden completely dominated proceedings but had been profligate until Landstrom popped up on 57 minutes to prod home after some excellent work from Lotta Schelin down the right.

Lyon striker Schelin, who was part of the side that won the UEFA Women's Champions League last month, had already been denied herself earlier in the game.

She twice had goalbound efforts cleared off the line by Colombia captain Natalia Gaitan and also saw a shot trickle agonisingly wide minutes before the winning goal.

It was a convincing victory for Sweden and their South American opponents rarely threatened, with two dipping strikes from Carmen Rodallega in the second half their only chances of note in the game.

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