- Song Xiaoli scored one of the goals of the tournament at China 2007
- Rescued the hosts with a perfectly-timed long-range strike
- Vote for your favourite goal from the ten on the shortlist
It seemed like the air had instantaneously been sucked out of the Wuhan Sports Centre Stadium. With three minutes remaining, Cathrine Paaske drew Denmark level with expectant host nation China PR in their 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ opener.
Eight years earlier China had been just a penalty kick away from winning the Women’s World Cup. Now they were facing a potentially ruinous defeat in their tournament opener, an event they had longed to re-host 16 years after welcoming the world for the maiden edition in 1991.
But an unlikely heroine had other plans. Within seconds of the restart second-half substitute Song, though having never previously scored an international goal, put the hosts back in front in spectacular headline-grabbing fashion.
A dynamic attacking midfielder Song was more renowned for creating goals than scoring them. But the evidence of her sweet strike against Denmark suggests otherwise.
Lurking just outside the penalty area Song latched onto a flick-on with her chest, instinctively creating space at the same time. Before Norway’s defence had an opportunity to react, Song unleashed an unstoppable inch-perfect strike that cannoned off the underside of the goal and into the net.
The dramatic 3-2 victory helped embolden the host nation on and off the field. The three points ultimately proved the difference as the Steel Roses qualified ahead of Denmark to reach the quarter-finals, before suffering a 1-0 defeat against 1995 champions Norway.
What they said
Song Xiaoli: “To be honest, I hadn’t thought much when I was about to shoot. The ball just rolled on to my path and I was comfortably on hand to deliver it. What I did was just chest it down and send it into the back into the net.
“This was my first major international match. I was a bit nervous. Before the kick-off, I told myself ‘it would be good if you can showcase what you can do’. Now I scored my first goal. I am short but I am nimble!
“It was amazing to score that goal. Our supporters encouraged us to play well and we were confident of winning. We gave our all and our legs were never tired. I was happy to score a goal as a substitute and it feels good being a super-sub.”