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Venturini’s one touch provides injury-time game-winner in 2-1 triumph over China.

By Gary Davidson

HERSHEY, Pa. (Friday, April 23, 1999) -- For Tisha Venturini, it was a short but rewarding night's work. Entering the match in the first minute of injury time, she knocked home a rebound 60 seconds later to give the United States a 2-1 victory over China Thursday night in a friendly match before 15,257 at Hersheypark Stadium.

It was her only touch of the match.

The ball just popped out and I said, 'All right,' Venturini said. "It was kind of like 'What's the point?' Then they said three minutes (of injury time) left, and I'm like, 'Oh, what the hell. I'll go in there for three minutes and run around, hopefully not mess up or trip on the ball.' It was the only touch I had on the ball, so I was going to make it a good one. I never scored a game-winner like that at the end, but my team played so hard for so long in that game. . . I was glad I could help."

Said U.S. coach Tony DiCicco: "I was real pleased with how the team played, so it was important playing that well we came out with a (positive) result. For Tisha to get it, it was awesome. My conversation with her before the game was, ‘Tish, I want to be able to put you in the game when we need a goal and for you to get it. My only mistake was probably not putting her in sooner."

The Americans gained a measure of revenge for a 2-1 setback to China March 20 in the Algarve Cup final in Portugal. With extra time winding down, three consecutive fouls by the Chinese allowed the Americans to advance from deep in its defensive end up the right flank. About 40 yards out, midfielder Shannon MacMillan, who entered in the 78th minute, caught the Chinese napping with a quick restart that broke striker Mia Hamm free down the sideline.

Hamm cut left deep into the right side of the penalty area before sending a cross that diving goalkeeper Han Wenxia parried away. Cutting in from the far side, Venturini got the ball and completed a 40-yard by drilling an eight-yard shot into the top of the net.

"I just hit it as hard as I could across the box," Hamm said. "Tisha made this unbelievable run from the middle of the field."

Wasted chances nearly derailed the United States -- again. After controlling the tempo in the first half and taking a 1-0 advantage into intermission, Hamm found a strange bounce put a ball at her feet in the 46th minute, but her point-blank shot from a sharp angle was blocked by Han. In the 55th minute, midfielder Julie Foudy failed to finish a cross from Hamm from two yards out.

Two minutes later, China tied the score at 1 on Sun Wen's perfectly placed 32-yard free kick into the top-left corner past goalkeeper Briana Scurry.

China's poorly executed offside trap allowed the United States to take a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute. The back line was slow to step up when Brandi Chastain fed Hamm, who broke free into the box before being taken down from behind by Wen Lirong, prompting a penalty call. Michelle Akers drilling a low hard penalty kick off the right arm of Han into the left corner of the net.

The United States nearly got on the scoreboard in the second minute. Hamm send a pass forward into the top right of the penalty area where fellow striker Cindy Parlow rattled a 15-yard shot off the near top-corner of the goal frame. In the 12th minute, it was Hamm who missed by inches, taking a pass from Chastain, on the left flank, cutting inside Chinese back Xie Huilin.

United States 2, China 1

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Carla Overbeck (Tiffany Roberts 59), Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero, Brandi Chastain, Michelle Akers (Christie Pearce 46), Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly (Tisha Venturini, 90), Tiffeny Milbrett (Shannon MacMillan 78), Cindy Parlow (Danielle Fotopoulos 86), Mia Hamm; China - Han Wenxia, Fan Yunjie, Wen Lirong, Xie Huilin, Zhao Lihong (Gao Hongxia 89) Wang Liping (Pu Wei 37), Liu Ailing, Liu Ying (Zhang Ouying 83), Bai Jie, Sun Wen, Jin Yan.

United States - Akers (penalty kick) 20;
China - Sun (unassisted) 59;
United States - Venturini (Hamm) 92+.

Shots: United States 8, China 5. Saves: United States 2, China 4. Corner kicks: United States 3, China 2. Fouls: United States 12, China 20. Offside: United States 3, China 2. Yellow card cautions: United States - Overbeck 31. China - Fan 7, Zhao 57, Jin 91+.

Referee: Nancy Lay (United States). Assistant referees: Craig Lowry (United States), Elizabeth Ann Ross (United States). Attendance: 15,257 at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa. Weather: Cool, breezy, 65 degrees.

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