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China's fatal error sends Norway into World Cup semi-finals
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A fatal and silly error committed by Chinese defender Wang Kun in Wuhan on Sunday gifted Norway a semi-final berth at 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup.



After boasting a 7-1 advantage in shot statistics in the first 30 minutes, China conceded a goal in the 32nd when Wang Kun lost concentration in the box and let the chasing Norwegian striker Isabell Herlovsen secure the ball from her control. Herlovsen shot the gift home without any hesitation.


Herlovsen said after the match, "It was a fantastic game. Luck was on our side. I think we’ll play even better in the semi-final against Germany."


It was the only goal in the breath-taking and the eye-catching quarter-final. China stood 11th on FIFA women's rankings but set a target of entering top four on home soil, and Norway, the 1995 World Cup titlists and 2000 Sydney Olympic champions placed fourth on the rankings.


Norway coach Bjame Berntsen said, "The Chinese played all out and in extremely high spirits today. But we took a chance and won the match. This often happens during a crucial duel."


Norwegian midfielder Ingvild Stensland almost added a goal in the 52nd minute when her 30-meter-long powerful shot hit the frame.


And Ragnhild Gulbrandsen, who was topping the World Cup scorer tally with five goals, squandered her last chance in the last minute when her slip header to top right corner was tipped off by Chinese goalie Zhang Yanru.


China coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors spoke highly of her players' performance tonight, saying, "We dominated the game most of the time, pressed the Norwegians very hard and created many scoring chances. The Norwegians only had one brilliant chance but they captured it."



The stalwart Chinese girls created more chances than the Norwegians, 15 against 8 in statistics, and often laid siege on their opponents.


In the ninth minute, Chinese new No. 10 Ma Xiaoxu fired a cannon long shot that went a bit wide. At 13 minutes, Ma's partner up front, Han Duan, secured a pass in the box. She beat a defender but her low keeper Bente Nordby rescued the shot.


China's best scoring chance came at the 23rd minute when midfielder Bi Yan thrust into the box, secured Han Duan's timing pass and blasted a close-range shot on target, forcing Nordby to a diving save.


Bi Yan said after the game, "Today, we played our best game in the World Cup. But we lost. We all felt very sad. Frankly speaking, Norway is stronger than us."


Bi, the Chinese captain today, also got another brilliant chance to tie the score in the 60th minute when she drove a close-range shot high into a goalmouth melee.


Midfielder Zhang Tong's long blast in the 30th minute also made Nordby stretch.


Norway earned their first shot (and shot on target) in the 19th minute on a near-box free kick. Chinese keeper Zhang Yanru caught the ball smoothly.


China had beaten Norway 4-0 in group stage of the World Cup 1991 and 5-0 in the semi-final of the World Cup 1999. But today, the Norwegians took their revenge.


Norway will take on defending champions – Germany, in the semi-final in Tianjin on September 26.



(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2007)

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