Wednesday, 24 July 2019 03:37 GMT

Italy blank China to continue dream World Cup return

(MENAFN - Arab Times)
Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, right, leaps to punch the ball away during the Women's World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Sweden and Canada at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Monday, June 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Sweden sink Canada to set up Germany clash

MONTPELLIER, France, June 25,
(RTRS): Italy beat China 2-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the
women's World Cup in convincing fashion on Tuesday as their dream return to the
tournament after a 20-year absence continued.

Valentina Giacinti and Aurora
Galli netted either side of the interval .

Italy have made it to the last
eight of the women's World Cup only once, in the inaugural edition in 1991 when
the group phase directly led to the quarter-finals.

China, the 1999 runners-up,
enjoyed a good spell before the break but failed to make it count as Italy
keeper Laura Giuliani made some good saves.

Milena Bertolini's team were
focused from the outset and were rewarded after 15 minutes as Giacinti started
and finished the move for Italy's opener.

She broke down the right flank
and her cross was met by Barbara Bonansea, who played in Elisa Bartoli.

The fullback's attempt was
parried by China keeper Peng Shimeng into the path of Giacinti, who had
followed up to stab home from close range.

The Azzurre went close to
doubling their tally when Valentina Bergamaschi's fierce angled shot forced
Peng to save at full stretch.

China had a couple of chances
through Wang Yan but Italy keeper Giuliani stayed alert to preserve her team's
lead, as the pressure on her goal increased thanks to some fine creative play
by Wang Shuang.

Italy, however, regained the
momentum early in the second half when Galli, who had replaced the injured
Cristiana Girelli in the first half, found the back of the net with a low
20-metre strike in the 50th minute.

It was her third goal of the
tournament, with all three having been scored after she came off the bench.

China pushed to find a
breakthrough but Italy's back four were largely untroubled as they kept their
opponents at bay until the final whistle.

Sweden's Stina Blackstenius
struck in the second half as they won 1-0 against Canada, who missed a late
penalty, at the women's World Cup to set up a quarter-final against Germany. In
sweltering conditions at the Parc des Princes, the two teams struggled to
register any shots on target in a first half.

 That all changed after the break when the
Swedes stepped up a level and they were finally rewarded in the 55th minute
when the Canadians lost possession of the ball in midfield.

Kosovare Asllani played an inch
perfect diagonal ball to striker Blackstenius, who prodded the ball past
onrushing keeper Stephanie Labbe.

It was her first goal of the
tournament and it freed the Swedish team, who almost added a second with a
thunderous drive from Fridolina Rolfo in the 61st minute.

Canada had a chance to get back
into the game after 68 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after a lengthy
VAR review ruled that Asllani had handled the ball.

However, veteran Sweden keeper
Hedvig Lindahl dived to her right to tip Janine Beckie's spot kick away.

The save appeared to suck the
spirit out of the Canadians who struggled to create much beyond a few half
chances and Asllani almost scored for Sweden five minutes from time as she
volleyed in from a corner, but her shot was cleared off the line. Sweden will
now face two-time champions Germany on Saturday in Rennes, a repeat of the 2003
final won by Germany.


Italy blank China to continue dream World Cup return

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