Resilient China back from behind at four-nation tounament
Updated: 2011-01-24 17:38
Li Danyang (R) of China fights for the ball during the 2011 women's four-nation tournament match against Sweden in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, Jan 23, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
YONGCHUAN, Chongqing - The Chinese soccer fans saw the dawn of hope of their women's team as the host came from one goal down to record an impressive 2-1 victory against swedenat the four-nation tournament.
China, standing the 11th in the FIFA ranking, came from behind to beat world No 4 Sweden 2-1 here on Sunday. And though the hosts lost to world No 9 Canada 3-2 on Friday, their performance did not disappoint the home crowd.
The Chinese team was bolstered by loud, chanting fans, who beat drums during the entire match and roared every time China got near the opponent's net.
"It is a very meaningful victory," said Li Xiaopeng, coach of the Chinese team. "To me, it is the first real win since I have taken charge of the team. We beat a world top ten team today, and every player did a good job."
Compared with the Asian Games last November, the women's soccer team showed obvious progress, especially in their attacks. They were in a fluent rhythm during the match, and the cooperation of Xu Yuan and young striker You Jia went quite well, and the tactics in the midfield also improved a lot.
The most important thing is the team now has a more positive mental outlook than in the Asian Games.
Sweden opened the scoring in the 15th minute as Johanna Almgran cut in and made a fine pass to Josefine Oqvist, the latter scored by a sharp-angled shot.
China made an equalizer in the 32nd minute thanks to Swede Lina Nilsson's own goal as she made an error when trying to clear Gu Yasha's free kick.
The hosts gradually found the pace in the second half by launching more dangerous attacks. Their effort got paid in the 61st minute when You enlarged the lead with a powerful shot from Qu Shanshan's free kick.
"We made some improvement," said Li, who took the charge of the team in last August after the "steel roses" failed to qualify for the World Cup in Germany for the first time and former coach Shang Ruihua resigned. "I want to give more chances to the young players, and I will do some adjustment in the squad."
Although Li made several changes, the Chinese team, once the Olympic silver medallists and the World Cup runners-up, still missed out on a podium finish for the first time in the Asian Games, which made Li's job seemed especially tough.
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