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State of shock

China still believes it's top team in world

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Posted: Sunday September 05, 1999 05:48 PM

  Goalie Hong Gao (center) made many saves, but could not stop Chastain's blast. Vincent Laforet/Allsport

By Steve Almasy, CNN/SI

PASADENA, Calif. -- It is the most bitter of any sporting pill to swallow -- to lose on penalty kicks with the ultimate prize at stake.

The worst thing is, one team doesn't win, the other team loses. You have to miss to lose a penalty-kick shootout and that's what happened to China on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

After 120 minutes of a seesaw battle with the United States, it came down to a Chinese penalty kick that was saved, not which team was better.

So when Chinese coach Ma Yuanan was asked if the United States was a better team, he simply replied, "No. I still think we have the best team in the world."

Star forward Sun Wen spent much of the day behind China's two other front-runners and never had a real solid opportunity to score. She took three shots, none of which required a save by U.S. goalie Briana Scurry.

"First of all," she said, "I want to congratulate the USA. Both teams played a great game. I think the American team was more lucky."

While the matter of luck is a matter of opinion, the one thing that swung the game in the United States' favor was the defense of the Americans.

"We tried to counterattack," Yuanan said.

It just didn't work.

China played a strong defensive game, also, and seemed to have the momentum in the first overtime period. But the U.S. held on, and in the end, was the better team -- at least at penalty kicks.

 
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