Abby Wambach, a 35-year-old veteran, scored the game’s only goal in the United States’ 1-0 victory over Nigeria in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Tuesday, enabling the Americans to finish first in Group D of the Women’s World Cup.
The victory assures the U.S. of a berth in the knockout round, and it will face a third-place finisher of another group Monday in the round of 16. The Americans had actually been assured a spot in the knockout round before its game against Nigeria as a result of games played earlier in the day.
Wambach’s goal came off a Megan Rapinoe corner kick just seconds before halftime. It was her 14th World Cup goal, tying her for the second-highest goal total with Germany’s Birgit Prinz, one behind Brazilian legend Marta.
The U.S., which finished with two wins and a tie in its three games in group play for seven points, controlled play for most of the contest and outshot Nigeria 14-7.
American defender Christie Rampone entered the game as a substitute and became the oldest player ever in women’s World Cup history. She turns 40 on June 24.
Nigeria was eliminated from competition with the loss.
Australia and Sweden tied 1-1 in the other Group D match played Tuesday in Edmonton, Alberta.
Australian forward Lisa De Vanna scored just five minutes into the game, but Sofia Jakobsson tied it for Sweden 10 minutes later.
Australia is assured of moving on to the knockout round after finishing with one win, one loss and one draw for four points, while Sweden is third with three draws and three points.