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Brazil defend soccer title with 2-1 victory over China at Beijing Paralympics
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16:17, September 17, 2008

Brazil showed their supremacy in the men's soccer 5-a-side tournament here on Wednesday as the defending champion edged China 2-1 to retain gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

China's Wang Yafeng, the lone target man in front, burst past two defenders and made a cool finish before the surging Brazilian keeper Fabio Ribeiro to break the deadlock in the 24th minute.

But the "samba" side showed their elegant techniques only five minutes after the rest when Ricardo Alves's free kick flew over the defenders' wall directly to reach the dead corner.

After the equalizer made, the defending champion grasped the momentum tightly with their much skillfull touch with balls despite the players could only judge the situation by hearing the coach's guides. Marcos Felipe' penalty in the 50th minute beat a diving save from keeper Xia Zheng and sealed the victory.

Though failing to top the podium with one step further, the inexperienced Chinese team never stopped trying and was rewarded by the cheerful crowd with a standing ovation after the final.

"We have tried whatever we could in this match. Losing the gold, we are a little bit down now, but after all it was our first time in Paralympics, I'm proud of ourselves. Thanks for everyone support us, believe me, we could do better in the future," said scorer Wang who was choked with sobs, with tears welling up in his eyes.

In the earlier bronze medal match, Argentina stroke a decisive goal in the penalty shootout and outscored Spain 2-1 to win the sitzkrieg battle.

The Spanish Antonio Jesus hit the target in the very first minute and continued creating chances early on. Argentina started their reaction in 42 minutes when Spain's fouls led to a free-kick in a very dangerous position and striker Silvio Velo made no mistake to achieve the equalizer.

In the penalty round, after both sides missing their first two kicks, Diego Cerega became the hero for Argentina as he scored the precious goal to gift his team the hard-won bronze.

Argentina's defender Lucas Rodriguez, who shed tears after the match, said the medal meant a lot to him.

"We love this game so strongly and intensely that this made me cry of emotion. In my heart, the medal is for a long time. We fought so hard and this is very big. I want to thank all the people that were close to us during these years."

Argentina had won silver in the first edition of this event at the the Paralympics 2004, where Spain won Bronze.

There are six teams together competing in Beijing. Following the medal winners, Spain, Britain and South Korea finished fourth to sixth places. Argentina's Silvio Velo led the scoring sheet with six goals.

Differing from the Olympic rules, a football 5-a-side match is played in two halves of 25 minutes each, in which there is no off-side rule. Every football match is played between teams with four blind athletes and one sighted or visually impaired goalkeeper on the field.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 88 68 52 208
2 Great Britain 42 29 31 102
3 USA 36 35 28 99
4 Ukraine 24 18 31 73
5 Australia 23 29 27 79
6 South Africa 21 3 6 30
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