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WORLD CUP

China wins its opener, 3-2

September 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

The expectations for China were already high, but the first game will be hard to top.

Song Xiaoli scored with less than two minutes left in regulation, striking a soaring shot from long range that lifted China to a 3-2 win over Denmark in its World Cup opener at Wuhan, China, on Wednesday in Group D.

Song sealed a game that saw two pairs of back-to-back goals. Her thundering shot sent Danish players crumpling to the ground in anguish, just seconds after they had pulled even on Cathrine Paaske Sorensen's header.

"I think it was a fantastic strike, a great curve up in the corner and [goalkeeper] Heidi [Johansen] couldn't do anything about it," Denmark Coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said. "I didn't think that China . . . got lucky, but in important parts of the game they did great."

The win heightens the home crowd's expectations ahead of China's upcoming game against Brazil, which is favored to win Group D.

Despite the win, the game revealed weaknesses in China's offense.

Striker Han Duan created several plays using her speed and some crowd-pleasing fakes and backheel passes, but her 19-year-old counterpart Ma Xiaoxu was a disappointment.

"Frankly I'm not too pleased with my performance today, but the team did well so I'm very happy," Ma said.

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Brazil 5, New Zealand 0 -- Marta scored two goals in the second half to lead Brazil in a Group D match at Wuhan.

The game between group favorites Brazil and overwhelming underdogs New Zealand was lopsided, with Brazil firing 26 shots to New Zealand's two.

Daniela, Cristiane and Renata Costa also scored for the South Americans.

The Kiwi roster featured six teenagers, including four in the starting lineup.

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Norway 2, Canada 1 -- Norway wore down Canada in the second half in a Group C match at Hangzhou.

Norway trailed 1-0 at the half before Ragnhild Gulbrandsen and Ane Stangeland Horpestad came through with goals for the former World Cup champions.

Canada had a goal disallowed in the 32nd minute because of a foul.

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Australia 4, Ghana 1 -- Australia won a Women's World Cup match for the first time in 10 tries with Lisa De Vanna scoring two goals in a Group C match at Hangzhou.

Australia, 0-7-2 in three previous World Cups, came up with a strong performance against the Africans.

Sarah Walsh and Heather Garriock also scored for Australia.

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