SYDNEY, Australia -- There was a sense of deja vu Down Under: The Olympic opening ceremony was a day away, and buses were missing and lost -- much like at the 1996 Summer Games.
Something else was familiar Thursday in Australia: The U.S. women's soccer team was still winning.
The defending gold medal winners came out smoking with a 2-0 victory over Norway -- a dominating performance where Tiffeny Milbrett nearly came away with a hat trick.
Milbrett, who scored the first goal for the United States, drilled shots into the left goalpost, the right goalpost and the crossbar later in the game. ''That won't happen ever again, I promise,'' Milbrett said. Mia Hamm scored her world record 126th goal in international competition to finish the scoring.
In the other women's soccer game, Sun Wen scored twice to lead China past Nigeria, 3-1, in the first game for both teams. China, which won the silver medal in Atlanta, faces the United State on Sunday.
A win by the U.S. women in either of their next two games should advance them into the soccer tournament's semifinals.
n MEN'S BASKETBALL: U.S. basketball guard Allan Houston may miss the Americans' first Olympic game after jamming his right wrist during practice. It's the same wrist the New York Knicks star needed surgery on three years ago.
''I'm not as worried or nervous as I was yesterday,'' Houston said Thursday after sitting out most of the U.S. team's two-hour practice. ''It felt like I stretched the scar tissue.''
Houston, who was scheduled to have his wrist X-rayed, said he would wait and see whether the wrist would keep him out of Sunday's U.S. team opener against China.
-- MEN'S SOCCER: The second day of men's soccer competition found gold medal contender Spain defeating South Korea, 3-0. Japan, with a late goal, scored a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over South Africa; Brazil defeated Slovakia, 3-1; and Chile beat Morocco, 4-1.
n THE TORCH: On its last night outside the Olympic Stadium, a retinue of celebrity Aussies put their hands on the Olympic torch as the flame wended its way through Sydney.
Australian sprinter Melinda Gainsford-Taylor brought the torch into the Sydney Opera House grounds; there, singer Olivia Newton-John took over; and finally, tennis star Patrick Rafter carried it on to Town Hall for an overnight stay.
''It helps people to forget all the world's troubles,'' said Allan Garton, who stood with his wife, Gloria, amid the jam-packed crowd greeting the torch.
The opening ceremony was set for Friday at the Olympic Stadium.
n TRANSPORTATION: Why did the U.S. volleyball players cross the road?
Because an Olympic bus dropped them off in the wrong place.
A cross-section of U.S. athletes wound up stranded and spurned by the Olympic transportation system in the days before the start of the games, American officials confirmed.
Bus mix-ups left U.S. boxers woozy and water polo players high and dry; the fighters waited for a bus that never showed, while the polo players were brought to the wrong pool. The volleyball team was dropped off on the wrong side of a highway.
Didn't this kind of thing happen in Atlanta?
''It would appear to me that what they are going through is very much the same,'' said U.S. Olympic Committee vice president Sandy Baldwin in one of the first public complaints about the transportation system.
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