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Sunday, July 11, 1999 Published at 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK

Sport: Football

US lifts World Cup

Champions: The World Cup is held high at the Rose Bowl

US 0-0 China (after extra time)
US won 5-4 on penalties

The US won a thrilling Women's World Cup final, defeating China on penalties before 90,000 ecstatic fans.

The BBC's Peter Bowes: "A very exciting match"
In what has been called the biggest women's sporting event in US history, Brandi Chastain scored the final penalty, tearing off her shirt as the home crowd celebrated their second world crown.

Agony and ecstasy in pictures Click here

She said afterwards: "I thought 'My God, this is the greatest moment of my life on a soccer field'."

Chastain's penalty followed those of Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly and the team's biggest name, Mia Hamm.

Xie Huilin and Qui Haiyan converted the first two penalties for China, but when Briana Scurry dived left to block Liu Ying's shot, the US took a lead denied them in open play.

[ image: An exhausted Mia Hamm celebrates]
An exhausted Mia Hamm celebrates
It is the third major honour for the US women's team, after victories in the inaugural Women's World Championship in 1991 and the 1996 Olympic Games.

Played before a sun-baked and highly partisan crowd at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the game failed to match Brazil's battle against Italy at the same venue in the 1994 World Cup.

But with fighter jets streaking overhead and American pop singer Jennifer Lopez performing the closing ceremony, the final was a major event nonetheless.

The final had national television coverage and even President Bill Clinton attended the game.

"The whole country is caught up," said President Clinton. "It's going to have a bigger impact than people ever realised, and it will have a far-reaching impact not only in the United States but also in other countries."

[ image: The crowd was in high spirits]
The crowd was in high spirits
The Chinese nearly spoiled the American party in the 100th minute when Fan Yunjie drove a header off a cross from Liu Ying - but midfielder Kristine Lilly cleared off the goal line.

It was one of few chances for either side in a match that produced little in the way of fireworks.

The US dominated the midfield play and controlled the possession, but were unable to break down a spirited Chinese defence.

Indeed, the best chances to wrap up the match came from the visitors, with Jin Yan flicking on a header at the near post in the 69th minute - only for it to roll across the face of the goal.

Sun Wen put a free kick from outside the area just over the bar in the 35th minute and American midfielder Michelle Akers headed away a dangerous corner in the first minute of second-half injury time.


Briana Scurry; Joy Fawcett, Carla Overbeck, Kate Sobrero, Brandi Chastain; Michelle Akers (Sara Wahlen, 91st), Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Cindy Parlow (Shannon MacMillan, 57th); Tiffeny Milbrett (Tisha Venturini, 115th), Mia Hamm.

Gao Hong; Wang Liping, Fan Yunjie, Wen Lirong, Bai Jie; Liu Ailing, Liu Ying, Zhao Lihong (Qui Haiyan, 114th), Pu Wei (Zhang Ouying, 59th); Jin Yan, Sun Wen.

Referee: Nicole Mouidi Petignat, Switzerland.

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