Sun Wenís penalty kick in 86th minute powers China to 1-0 Pacific Cup victory.
True, neither game produced goal from the run of play, but most of all, the U.S. captured the World Cup title (in a penalty-kick tiebreaker after 120 scoreless minutes) and China prevailed today 1-0 with Sun Wenís penalty kick in the 86th minute proving the difference before 550 fans at Bruce Stadium.
"Neither China or the United States was at their best," said China coach Ma Yuanan. "But we must be happy with the result."
The U.S. lineup featured eight starters from the WWC final; China had nine, but thatís where the similarities ended. Instead of playing on a well-manicured pitch before 90,125 fans enjoying summer weather at the Rose Bowl, todayís match was played in temperatures in the mid-30ís before an inconsequential crowd on a field that was badly damaged by rugby league matches.
There were only a total of 15 shots in the match, 10 by the Americans who had the better chances to score.
"I'm not pleased with the result, but I am pleased with the way we played," said U.S. coach April Heinrichs. "I thought we played well enough to score at least three goals, which on another day, we might have converted. But when you lose, there are always things to learn and build on.
"The U.S. team is always disappointed when we lose. But China is a terrific team and they always have been. Even under high pressure, they are difficult to dispossess."
In the 85th minute, China sent a ball through the U.S. defense, bouncing into the penalty area. Wen darted after the ball, but was screened by Danielle Slaton and then both went down in a heap as goalkeeper Siri Mullinix charged out to slide and corral the ball. Referee Tammy Ogston ruled that Slaton had wrapped her arms around Wen and pulled her to the ground, then pointed to the penalty spot and gave Slaton a yellow card.
Wen calmly stuck her shot into the right corner past Mullinix, who guessed wrong on the direction of the shot.
The U.S. attacked furiously during the remaining time, but even four minutes of stoppage time were not enough in which to manufacture an equalizer. Still, the Americans came painfully close when Cindy Parlow put Tiffeny Milbrett through alone in the 90th minute. Milbrett's shot from an angle in the left side of the box beat goalkeeper Han Wenxia, but slipped just inches wide of the right post.
It was Milbrett that got the game's first chance when she picked off a Chinese square pass in just the 10th minute and raced in on a breakaway. Her drive was well-saved by Wenxia with a dive to her left.
"China is one of those teams that is going to technically dominate play," said U.S. striker Mia Hamm. "You have to try not to get frustrated and make the most of your opportunities. We had some great chances, but China got the penalty kick. Of course, we are frustrated, but we have another game in two days and we just have to learn from this one and move onto Canada. We're going to play China again, probably more times than we want, but you have to play the best teams in the world to prepare yourself for a tournament like the Olympics."
China's only other true dangerous chance beside the goal came in the 28th minute when Zhao Lihong penetrated U.S. defense on left side and hit a screamer over the crossbar.
"I thought it was a bit of a sloppy game offensively with the field and the cold," said U.S. captain Julie Foudy. "But China is always good and it always seems to come down to the last minutes with them. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side tonight."
China 1, United States 0Lineups: United States Siri Mullinix, Brandi Chastain (Danielle Slaton 46), Kate Sobrero, Joy Fawcett, Christie Pearce, Kristine Lilly, Lorrie Fair, Julie Foudy, Shannon MacMillan (Cindy Parlow 56), Mia Hamm (Nikki Serlenga 81), Tiffeny Milbrett. China - Han Wenxia, Fan Yunjie, Wen Lirong, Bai Jie, Wang Liping, Zhao Lihong, Liu Ailing, Liu Ying (Shui Gingxia 30), Zhang Ouying (Fan Chunling 39), Jin Yan (Qiu Haiyan 60), Sun Wen.
Shots: United States 10, China 5. Saves: United States 2, China 4. Corner kicks: United States 1, China 5. Fouls: United States 5, China 12. Offside: United States 4, China 6. Yellow card cautions: United States - Slaton 85; China Zhao 23, Oui 79.
Referee: Tammy Ogston (Australia). Refereeís assistants: Bronwyn Calver (Australia), Jacquie Leleu (Australia). Attendance: 550 at Bruce Stadium in Canberra, Australia. Weather: Cold, clear, 34 degrees.