Any way you get there
China, Norway reach semifinal in different fashions
Posted: Thursday July 01, 1999 09:18 PM
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- China did it by dominating for an entire match, outshooting the Russians 24-2 in a one-sided contest. Norway used a 20-minute spurt to break open a close match against a familiar rival, Sweden.
The Chinese and Norwegians reached the Women's World Cup semifinals in different fashions, and will face each other Sunday at Foxboro, Mass.
China defeated the Russians 2-0 in a game not nearly as close as the score, while the defending World Cup champion Norwegians scored all their goals in a 20-minute span of the second half in defeating Sweden 3-1 in Wednesday's quarterfinals.
And even though Norway had made the final in each of the two previous World Cups, the Norwegians are painting themselves as underdogs against a Chinese team that is relentless on offense.
"China is ... the best team in the world right now. We're just one of the top four, so we want to see how we can do," Norwegian coach Per-Mathias Hogmo said.
The biggest challenge Chinese goalie Gao Hong faced against the Russians was staying awake. The ball was on the Russian side of the field for most of the match, and Gao was not forced to make a save until the game's final moments.
"It wasn't that boring," Gao said. "The Russian team is known for its counterattacking, so I was ready for that. I was just waiting for my moment."
In its past three games in the World Cup, China has outscored opponents 12-1. Gao has not faced a tough test since China's 2-1 win over Sweden in its opener.
"The games will become harder and harder," said Gao, who allowed only five goals in five games at the 1996 Olympics. "Different teams give me different pressures. There was not much action for me [against Russia], but I was prepared."
Though Norway advanced to the semifinal, the Swedes also had reason to cheer. When Malin Mostrom scored during injury time at the end of the second half, it earned the Swedes a spot in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Under a complicated formula used to select the eight women's soccer teams for the 2000 Games, Mostrom's goal clinched a spot for the Swedes.
"This young team needs to get experience as we have in the World Cup and will in the Olympics," Swedish coach Marika Domanski Lyfors said. "We are coming back in the next World Cup. I promise that."
Even the Norwegians seemed happy their Scandinavian neighbors had earned a spot in Sydney."We're pleased Sweden got the goal and qualified for the Olympics," Hogmo said.
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