Women's World Cup 2019: Italy ease to quarter-final with convincing win against China

Julien Pretot

Italy beat China 2-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the women's World Cup in convincing fashion on Tuesday as their dream return to the tournament after a 20-year absence continued.

Valentina Giacinti and Aurora Galli netted either side of the interval to set up a meeting with the Netherlands or Japan.

Italy have made it to the last eight of the women's World Cup only once, in the inaugural edition in 1991 when the group phase directly led to the quarter-finals.

China, the 1999 runners-up, enjoyed a good spell before the break but failed to make it count as Italy keeper Laura Giuliani made some good saves.

Milena Bertolini's team were focused from the outset and were rewarded after 15 minutes as Giacinti started and finished the move for Italy's opener.

She broke down the right flank and her cross was met by Barbara Bonansea, who played in Elisa Bartoli.

The fullback's attempt was parried by China keeper Peng Shimeng into the path of Giacinti, who had followed up to stab home from close range.

Italy had only made the last eight once before (Getty)

The Azzurre went close to doubling their tally when Valentina Bergamaschi's fierce angled shot forced Peng to save at full stretch.

China had a couple of chances through Wang Yan but Italy keeper Giuliani stayed alert to preserve her team's lead, as the pressure on her goal increased thanks to some fine creative play by Wang Shuang.

Italy, however, regained the momentum early in the second half when Galli, who had replaced the injured Cristiana Girelli in the first half, found the back of the net with a low 20-metre strike in the 50th minute.

It was her third goal of the tournament, with all three having been scored after she came off the bench.

China pushed to find a breakthrough but Italy's back four were largely untroubled as they kept their opponents at bay until the final whistle.