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Sweden, US in Algarve Cup final

DEFENDING champion United States will meet 2001 winner Sweden in the final of the women's Algarve Cup in Portugal after each finished top of their tournament groups on Monday.

Sweden upset Germany 3-2 to jump to No. 1 in Group A, while the Americans, who had already qualified for today's final match, edged Norway 1-0 to stay top of Group B with a perfect nine points.

US coach Pia Sundhage will meet her home country in the final at the Estadio do Algarve in southern Portugal.

"It will be awesome," Sundhage said. "Winning the midfield is the key, plus keeping (Sweden striker) Lotta Schelin away from our box."

The Americans, who haven't conceded a goal this year in the Algarve, have won the invitational tournament a record six times.

The Swedes racked up a 3-0 halftime lead after two goals from Schelin after an opening score by Nilla Fischer.

Two-time world champion Germany rallied with goals from Inka Grings and Kim Kulig but lost its first match in Group A.

The US, which was guaranteed a place in the final after back-to-back wins over Denmark and Iceland last week, rested some key players and struggled to contain Norway but won behind a 21st-minute goal from Megan Rapinoe. She beat two defenders and, with her back to goal, spun round and fired a low drive into the corner of the net.

Sweden made a sluggish start in the competition with a scoreless draw with China but then overcame Finland 1-0 in its second group game. It ended the round-robin stage with seven points.

China beat Finland 1-0. In Group B, Denmark defeated Iceland 2-0 and will play Germany for third place today.


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