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China join Australia, Brazil and Norway in World Cup quarters

20 September 2007 19:50

TIANJIN, China (AFP) - A determined China battled past New Zealand Thursday to tee-up a women's World Cup quarter-final with Norway, while Australia snatched a last-gasp equaliser to book a showdown with Brazil.

The host nation, watched by a raucous crowd, went through to their fourth successive quarter-finals after beating the Kiwis 2-0 as Group D rivals Denmark lost 1-0 to Brazil in Hangzhou.

Second-half strikes from Li Jie and Xie Caixia downed New Zealand after China laid seige to the visitors goal in a one-sided game.

Li broke the deadlock on 57 minutes, heading in a floated free-kick from deep for her second goal of the tournament, while Xie put the win beyond doubt by coolly rounding a defender to slot home with 11 minutes left.

"We did what we had to do," said relieved China coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors.

In the other quarter-finals, the United States take on England in Tianjin on Saturday while defending champions Germany are up against North Korea in Wuhan on the same day.

Brazil scored a late goal in Hangzhou to book their place in the knockout round with substitute Pretinha doing the damage in the 91st minute after both sides went close in regulation time.

It kept the fleet-footed South American powerhouse, who topped Group C, on course for their first title.

Coach Jorge Barcellos said he had lineup problems because he did not want three players already on yellow cards to risk getting booked again and miss the quarter-final.

But he finally found the right combination after half-time.

"Brazil came here to make history and the only issue for me today was our own qualification. As for whether we're favourites, I think every team left in the tournament is capable of winning the title," he said.

Former champions Norway, who needed only to draw to qualify, made no mistakes with a 7-2 demolition of Ghana, as star striker Ragnhild Gulbrandsen plundered a hat-trick, one of which was the 500th goal in World Cup history.

The 1995 winners began their bombardment in the fourth minute when Lene Storlokken chested down and rifled home after being picked out with a header, and the result from then on was never in doubt.

"I think this game we were very effective," said coach Bjarne Bernsten, but added that there was room for improvement.

"It's very important that we improve, though, because I don't think we played our best football today, we were certainly too casual in defence."

Australia came from behind twice to scramble a 2-2 draw against Canada with captain Cheryl Salisbury firing home a 92nd minute equaliser to put the Matildas in the knockout rounds for the first time.

It was an edge-of-the-seat thriller in Chengdu with Canada looking to have the game sewn up when skipper Christine Sinclair scored five minutes from the end of regulation time.

If the result had remained that way, the Canadians would have gone through.

Canada's goal was a sickening blow that Australian coach Tom Sermanni thought would prove fatal.

"We stopped playing the way we usually play in the second half and when they scored late I thought the game was all over," he said.

"My players showed a lot of character and resilience, though, and I was so pleased when that final goal fell in.

The Canadians went 1-0 up after just 32 seconds when Melissa Tancredi shot cleanly past Australian 'keeper Melissa Barbieri.

Australia were back on level terms with a superb free-kick from midfield general Collette McCallum after 53 minutes, setting up the exciting finale.

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