NEWS
06/16/2015 22:00 EDT | Updated 06/16/2016 01:12 EDT

U.S. downs Nigeria at Women's World Cup to clinch top spot in Group D

VANCOUVER - Abby Wambach scored just before halftime Tuesday as the United States defeated Nigeria 1-0 at the FIFA Women's World Cup.The American captain flicked her boot at a Megan Rapinoe corner kick in the 45th minute, slicing the ball home to give the U.S. a deserved lead.With the victory, the Americans won Group D — the so-called "Group of Death" because the U.S., Sweden and Australia are all ranked in the top-10 — with seven points and will play its match in the round of 16 on Monday in Edmonton.Australia secured second spot in the group after tying Sweden 1-1 in Edmonton. The Australians wound up with five points, while the Swedes picked up its third straight draw to finish third with three points. Nigeria, meanwhile, completed its World Cup at the bottom of the group with a tie and two losses.The 35-year-old Wambach, who had blamed a lack of U.S. goals on the tournament's use of artificial turf, came off the bench as a substitute in her team's 0-0 draw with Sweden on Friday. She got nod the from the start in this one alongside fellow striker Alex Morgan, leading the charge for an American side that had a number of chances before the breakthrough.U.S. defender Julie Johnston's effort that beat Nigerian goalkeeper Precious Dede off a free kick was ruled offside in the eighth minute, while Wambach saw a header go up and over the bar in the 18th.Despite the pressure from the Americans, Nigeria had a great chance to open the scoring in the 25th minute when Asisat Oshoala got on the end of a perfectly weighted pass behind the U.S defence. But with the striker bearing down on American goalkeeper Hope Solo, Johnston recovered just in time to block Oshoala's shot.B.C. Place Stadium could have been mistaken for U.S. territory during the match as thousands of fans draped in red, white and blue roared with approval every time one of their players so much as touched the ball. Attendance was officially announced at 52,193.Morgan had a chance to double the American lead in the 48th minute, but Dede made a good save on the forward's partial break.Nigeria nearly got a shock equalizer in the 55th when Desire Oparanozie's free kick from distance seemed to catch Solo flat-footed and landed on the roof of the U.S. goal.Morgan got another great look at goal in the 62nd minute, but Dede again had her number with a brave stop on a point-blank shot.Nigeria finished the match with 10 players after Sarah Nnodim was sent off in the 68th minute for her second yellow card. The foul came on substitute Sidney Leroux, who was born in nearby Surrey, B.C., but chose to play for the U.S. instead of Canada. Leroux was greeted with some boos from the Canadian fans in attendance.---Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter