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Women's World Cup

Sun Has a Solid Body of Work

Striker takes painful shot to the chest but leads China over Ghana, 1-0, in Group D game.

September 22, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Her upper body giveth and her upper body taketh.

On both occasions, it couldn't have worked out better for China and its incomparable striker Sun Wen in the second game of the Group D doubleheader of the Women's World Cup on Sunday night at Carson.

A spirited crowd of 10,027 at the Home Depot Center watched Sun's header at the far post in the 29th minute stand up as she put away a cross from Bai Jie, giving China a 1-0 victory against Ghana.

Bai made it happen, going around Patience Sackey with a quick move deep in the left corner and lofting the ball toward the right post. Sun certainly knows how to take advantage of such service and did it again, a now-familiar sight in the World Cup.

The 30-year-old Sun, playing in her fourth World Cup, needs one goal to tie and two to pass American Michelle Akers' World Cup career-record of 12.

Her other notable contact with the soccer ball was on the far end of the pleasure-pain spectrum.

In the 58th minute, Sun was blasted in the upper body by a free kick, taking the stinging hit, and more importantly, taking away a rare scoring opportunity.

It looked wincingly painful. And it clearly was, as she needed a few seconds to shake it off before moving back to her attacking position.

You might say one team's routine, first-round victory -- China has never dropped its opening game in the World Cup -- is another's moral breakthrough.

Considering that four years ago Ghana lost to China, 7-0, its improvement can be measured in these sizable increments.

"I've explained many times that the current team is not the same as four years ago," Coach Ma Liangxing said, of the comparison to the 1999 World Cup runner-up. "At least we won the game, so it was a very good start."

But the margin of victory could have been closer to the team's previous World Cup meeting if not for the solid goalkeeping of Memunatu Sulemana. Perhaps her toughest save was on Bai in the 60th minute.

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