China 2, Sweden 1
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Tight play, sharp passing and superb goalkeeping led China to a 2-1 victory over Sweden on Saturday, the opening day of the Women’s World Cup.
Swedish midfielder Kristen Bengtsson, the oldest player on the team at 29, scored the first goal just two minutes into the game _ cracking a hard, high ball into the upper left corner of the net.
China’s goalie, Gao Hong, got her hand on it but the ball slid in.
The second-fastest goal in Women’s World Cup history _ Sweden scored in the first minute in 1991 against Japan _ was also Sweden’s only goal of the game.
Fifteen minutes later, China came back when Liu Ying knocked a sweeping corner kick across the front of Sweden’s goal and Jin Yan headed it down into the corner, just past the fingertips of diving goalie Ulrika Karlsson.
China’s decisive goal came in 68th minute when Liu Ailing kicked a low, fast shot into the middle of the net. Her goal, assisted by Liu Ying, came at the end of a string of seven passes all the way down the field by China.
Coordinated, neat play distinguished China, contrasting with Sweden’s faster, more aggressive style. Gao, one of the top goalies in women’s soccer, recovered after her initial miss to stop several tough shots.
Sweden beat China 1-0 in the 1991 World Cup quarterfinals. In the 1995 World Cup, China won 4-3 on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals.