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Wagner's three assists, Milbrett's winner lead U.S. to 3-1 victory over Norway.

U.S. women

Fan, Sun strike in first half, sending China to 2-0 Four Nations Tournament victory.

WUHAN, China (Sunday, January 26, 2003) -- Defender Fan Yunjie and striker Sun Wen scored in the first half, sending China to a 2-0 triumph over the United States in the Four Nations Tournament before an estimated 40,000 chilly, wet fans at the Wuhan Sports Center Stadium this afternoon.

Norway and Germany drew 2-2 in today's other match, leaving China in first place at 1-0-1 with four points, followed by the U.S. (1-1, 3), Germany (0-0-2, 2) and Norway (0-1-1, 1). The round robin concludes Wednesday at Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai when the U.S. plays Germany and China faces Norway.

The Americans are still in position to win this event with help from China. A victory over Germany combined with a tie or loss by China against Norway would give the U.S. the title.

"On the whole, I am still very pleased about this tournament and we are in a position to win it in our last game," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "We have given a lot of players playing time and we have been able to evaluate almost every player on this roster in a World Cup-like environment. The challenge for us is to bounce back from the disappointment of losing."

China delighted the highly-supportive home fans by taking a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute when midfielder Zhao Lihong sent a corner kick seven yards from goal and Fan lobbed a header over goalkeeper LeKeysia Beene who was just a few steps off her line.

A minute later, forward Shannon MacMillan came close to pulling the U.S. even, but her long free kick was tipped over the crossbar by keeper Zhao Yan.

Sun's bending 28-yard free stuck in the top left corner in the 36th minute to put China ahead 2-0.

"Sun Wen is playing as well as I've seen her play in four years," Heinrichs said. China has "speed, quickness and athleticism to complement their team skill, and unlike 1999, they will be supported massively by their home crowd (when the World Cup is played in China in the fall). In fairness, we lost on two world class goals."

Fan nearly found net again in the 45th minute, but her header sailed high as two Americans crashed into her.

"China's speed of play was so quick. It was really hard to win the ball back from them when we lost it," U.S. midfielder Lorrie Fair said. "We picked it up in the second half and got a big boost from the players who came into the game. Hopefully, we can carry that momentum to the Germany game."

Then, China almost scored three minutes into the second half, but Beene made a great save, sliding to block Zhao's one-on-one opportunity. Sun latched onto the rebound, but her shot at the open net from 25 yards was headed off the goal line by retreating defender Christie Pearce, who came in at intermission, returning to action after undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery.

Those would be China's only dangerous chances of the second half.

The U.S. outshot China 6-4 in the final 45 minutes, but chances by strikers Cindy Parlow and Heather O'Reillly, a second-half sub, went for naught.

"These are some of the most difficult conditions that I've seen our women's national team face," Heinrichs said. "As many as 10 players got sick, we are playing China in China, in front of 40,000 screaming fans, the temperatures were cold, but worsened by the rain and wind. Giving up two goals is hard to overcome, but our effort in the second half was phenomenal. We did everything we could in that second half to get a goal and a make it difficult for China."

The game was played in temperatures in the 30s compounded by a steady wind and rain.

"The crowd lived up to its reputation. It was a World Cup like environment," U.S. defender Brandi Chastain said. "We were under a lot of pressure, but the positive was that we battled for 90 minutes and also put pressure on China. We had a fairly young lineup out there in the second half and they performed well."

In the first match of the afternoon, Norway took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Dagny Mellgren, but Germany equalized on a tally by Martina Muller.

Anita Rapp put Norway back ahead 2-1 in the middle of the second half, but Linda Bresonik's penalty kick gave the Germans a draw.


China 2, United States 0

Lineups: China - Zhao Yan (captina), Sun Rui, Li Jie, Fan Yunjie (Gao Hongxia 82), Liu Ya Li, Zhao Lihong, Pu Wei, Liu Ying, Zhang Ouying (Ren Liping 62), Bai Jie (Han Duan 87), Sun Wen (Teng Wei 70). United States - LaKeysia Beene, Thori Bryan, Joy Fawcett (captain), Brandi Chastain, Jenny Benson (Christie Pearce 46), Tiffany Roberts, Angela Hucles, Jena Kluegel (Aly Wagner 66), Lorrie Fair (Lindsay Tarpley 46), Cindy Parlow (Tiffeny Milbrett 70), Shannon MacMillan (Heather O'Reilly 46).

Scoring:
China - Fan (Zhao L.) 19.
China - Sun (unassisted) 36.

Shots: China 8, United States 9. Shots on goal: China 5, United States 4. Saves: China 4, United States 3. Fouls: China 8, United States 2. Offside: China 1, United States 6. Yellow card caution: China - Ren 76.

Referee: Rebekka Kirchner (Germany). Assistant referees: Fu Hongjue (China), Zhang Dongqing (China). Attendance: 40,000 (estimated) at Wuhan Sports Center Stadium in Wuhan, China. Weather: Cold, rainy, windy, 38 degrees.

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