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Algarve Cup

China continues U.S frustration here with 2-1 victory in final.

LOULÉ, Portugal (Saturday, March 20, 1999) -- The United States dominated play, but it was China that came up with a 2-1 victory in the championship match of the Sixth Algarve Cup at Municipal Stadium today.

Jin Yan netted the game-winner in the 65th minute to continue the American frustration in this event: no titles and only two appearances in the final in five appearances.

"It's definitely frustrating to not win this tournament again," said U.S. defender Carla Overbeck, who played despite a strained neck suffered in the USA's victory over Norway in the final match of group play. "We hate to lose any match, but this is a great tournament with great teams. We have to look at the big picture, and the most important time to win is in June and July at the World Cup."

Norway took third place, needing a 4-1 edge in penalty kicks after playing a 2-2 draw. Australia captured fifth place 7-6 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie with Sweden. Portugal edged Finland 2-1 for seventh place.

The U.S. outshot China 16-7, butt fell behind 1-0 in the 16th minute midfielder Sun Wen got behind the American defense on the right side and floated an out-swinging cross into the middle. Forward Pu Wei outjumped several U.S. players to place her header into the right corner from eight yards away.

That would be the final shot of the first half for China. The Americans pressed forward and the territorial superiority paid off just before intermission with a throw-in deep in China's defensive third. Cindy Parlow won Brandi Chastain's long throw from the right side and flicked the ball on with her head. It dropped to Tiffeny Milbrett, who placed her volley seven yards into the right corner in the 45th minute. Milbrett’s 51st career goal made her the high scorer for the Algarve Cup with four goals.

Just two minutes into the second half, Mia Hamm broke through the Chinese defense in the left side of the penalty area, touched the ball past Chinese goalkeeper Gao Hong, who took Hamm down from behind in the box. Brandi Chastain, wasted the ensuing penalty kick, however, drilling it off the top of the crossbar.

The U.S. switched from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3 formation in search of the winning goal and the strategy backfired. Jin took advantage of open space down the right flank and finished her breakaway smartly, sliding the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Briana Scurry.

The USA laid siege to China's penalty box after the goal, but could not beat Gao again. The best chance came deep into stoppage time when Parlow got free behind the Chinese defense off a flicked header by Danielle Fotopoulos. But Gao made the biggest save of the game, sticking out her right hand to turn away the shot.

"China is a great team with skillful players who are very good on the ball," Parlow said. "It's unfortunate that we lost, but we can take a lot of positives from this tournament, go back to training camp and get better so we can win the World Cup this summer."

The victory for China was the first against the U.S. since 1993, and reverses a 2-1 win for the Americans in the 1996 Olympic final.

"In the first half, we needed to hold the ball better on the forward line, and I think in the second half we did that and got some great opportunities to score," U.S. coach Tony DiCicco said. "China is not Olympic silver medalists for nothing. They have a great team, and while they didn't get a lot of opportunities, they certainly took advantage of the ones they got. Overall, it was still a very solid performance by the USA. We easily could have won the match, but we also realize we've got some work to do before we open the World Cup on June 19.

"This tournament was great for our growth as team. We played the top teams in the world and I saw that we have a lot of players who can get it done on the field against those teams."

Norway defeated Denmark for 3rd place, winning 4-1 on penalty kicks after tying 2-2 in regulation. Australia defeated Sweden for 5th place, winning 7-6 on penalty kicks after tying 1-1 in regulation. Host Portugal salvaged some pride by scoring its first two goals of the tournament and defeated Finland.

China 2, United States 1

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero (Danielle Fotopoulos 90), Brandi Chastain (Lorrie Fair 63), Michelle Akers (Shannon MacMillan 60), Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett (Sara Whalen 73), Cindy Parlow, Mia Hamm; China - Gao Hong, Fan Yunjie, Wen Lirong, Zhao Man Lihong, Wang Liping, Liu Ailing (Qiu Hayan 90), Liu Ying, Bai Jie, Pu Wei, Sun Wen, Jin Yan (Zhang Ouying 85).

Scoring:
China - Pu (Sun) 16;
United States - Milbrett (Parlow) 45;
China - Jin (Liu) 65.

Shots: United States 16, China 7. Saves: United States 3, China 6. Corner kicks: United States 7, China 4. Fouls: United States 5, China 9. Offside: United States 4, China 5. Yellow card cautions: United States - Overbeck 89; China - Gao 47, Liu 87.

Referee: Bente Skogvang (Norway). Assistant referees: Ann Kleven (Norway), Tina Svendsen (Denmark). Attendance: 800 at Municipal Stadium in Loulé, Portugal. Weather: Sunny, hot, 78 degrees.

Sixth Algarve Cup

Times are local in Portugal. Times in parentheses are Eastern Standard

Schedule

Saturday, March 20

Championship
in Loulè

China 2, United States 1

Third place
in Quarteira

Norway 2, Denmark 2 (Norway wins 4-1 in penalty kicks)

Fifth place
in Loulè

Sweden 1, Australia 1 (Australia wins 7-6 in penalty kicks).

Seventh place
in Montechoro

Portugal 2, Finland 1

Results

Thursday, March 18

in Albufeira
United States 2, Norway 1
Sweden 0, Finland 0

in Montechoro
Denmark 5, Portugal 0
China 2, Australia 0

Tuesday, March 16

in Quarteira
Norway 2, Sweden 1
United States 4, Finland 0

in Olhão
China 2, Denmark 0
Portugal 0, Australia 0

Sunday, March 14

in Silves
United States 1, Sweden 1
Norway 1, Finland 0

in Faro
Denmark 1, Australia 1
China 4, Portugal 0

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