TIANJIN, China -- Li Jie and Xie Caixia scored in the second
half Thursday to lead China to a 2-0 win over New Zealand, setting
up a quarterfinal matchup against Norway on Sunday.
China launched repeated attacks but wasn't able to crack the
gritty New Zealand defense until the 57th minute when Li Jie scored
off a free kick from Zhou Gaoping, heading the ball over keeper
Xie added another in the 79th minute, deftly outdribbling a
defender and launching a left-footed shot from close range.
Like in its other first-round games against Group D opponents
Brazil and Denmark, the underdog New Zealand squad's scrappy
defense held off repeated scoring drives. China outshot New Zealand
Zhang Ouying's shot 50 seconds into the game was deflected out
of bounds by keeper Jenny Bindon, and was followed by numerous
other misses. Near the end of the period, Han Duan outdribbled
several defenders but her shot from 6 yards veered out bounds.
Han's header in the 75th was batted over the goal by Bindon,
followed by a shot a minute later from Ma Xiaoxu that hit the
New Zealand went home scoreless, losing all three of its
first-round games. It's best chance to score in the game came in
the 64th minute, when Zoe Thompson charged at China goalie Zhang
Yanru, but her shot went wide.
Zhang started in goal instead of Han Wenxia, whose mistakes in
China's last game against Brazil contributed to a 4-0 rout.
A boisterous crowd of 56,200 turned out at Tianjin Olympic
Center Stadium to cheer on the home team, setting off flares and
chanting "Two to nothing!" after China's first goal.