Canada do the unthinkable
FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003
Canada do the unthinkable
Charmaine Hooper scored off a header in the seventh minute as Canada stunned China 1-0 on Thursday and advanced to their first ever berth in the FIFA Women's World Cup semi-finals.
"This is a dream come true for me and for many of the other players on this team," said goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek, who made five saves for the shutout.
Hooper scored in the seventh minute to help Canada book a date with Sweden in the semi-finals which will feature two matchups between North America and European teams on Sunday in Portland, Oregon.
Germany overpowered Russia 7-1 in the other quarter-final on Thursday and will face the host United States.
"This is going to be a huge step for our programme and also it will be a huge step for women's soccer in Canada," said Hooper.
The loss ended a year of disappointment for China which was initially supposed to host the tournament before an outbreak of SARS forced organizers to move it to the US. The game also marked the final international appearance for China's star forward Sun Wen, who plans to retire.
Dogged striker-turned-defender Hooper finished off a long ball from Diana Matheson in minute seven, heading the ball over China keeper Han Wen-xia for what turned out to be the only goal of the match.
"This is the biggest win for our women's national team," said Hooper. "It's bigger than anything we've done before. It's bigger than our World Cup qualifying final.
"Four years ago I never imagined us being in the semi-finals of the World Cup. I didn't even imagine us winning a game, and here we've won two games."
Try as they might for the next 83 minutes, the offensively-challenged Steel Roses just could not find a way past 22-year-old goalkeeper Swiatek, who smothered every shot fired her way.
The Chinese controlled nearly 65 percent of possession and took 16 shots to Canada's five.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game based on hard, hard work and a lot of running, chasing balls. All of the players worked extremely hard," said Canadian coach Even Pellerud.
Germany confirmed their status as the European powerhouse by easily rolling over Russia 7-1.
Kerstin Garefrekes and Birgit Prinz scored two goals each as Germany set up a dream showdown with defending World Champ, the United States.
After a second-half goal avalanche, the Germans also secured their place at next year's Olympic Women's Football Tournament in Athens.
Germany lead 1-0 at the half before exploding for three goals in a five-minute span in the second half to jump out to a 4-0 lead.
Garefrekes (62, 85) and Prinz (80, 89) scored a pair each, while Martina Mueller, Sandra Minnert and Pia Wunderlich added singles.
Wunderlich's goal in the 60th minute was the prettiest of the day. Stefanie Gottschlich got the play started by moving the ball to Prinz who back-heeled it brilliantly just five yards from goal. Second-half substitute Wunderlich slammed it home to make it 3-0 and the rout was on.