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Press Info - Match Description
China make it to quarters despite loss

Alessandro Fei and Mirko Corsano watching the game from the stands
Beijing, China, August 18, 2008 - China made the quarter-finals for the first time in 24 years despite a five-set loss to Italy, which missed Fei and Corsano, both on the athlete's stands due to injuries.

The host, who finished fourth in Pool A with two wins against three losses, will play defending champion Brazil in the quarter-finals of the Beijing Games on Wednesday.

Italy, the Athens Games runners-up, held off a strong late surge from the host for the 25-17, 25-23, 21-25, 20-25, 16-14 victory and improved to a 4-1 record.

In the tiebreaker, China beat off two set points thanks to consecutive smashes from Fang Yingchao to tie it at 14-all, but Luigi Mastrangelo made it 15-14 in favour of Italy with a kill before Fang drove a ball out to surrender the match.

Hristo Zlatanov scored 29 points to lead the Italians, who rested their top scorer Alberto Cisolla for more than three sets.

Going down tamely in the first set, the Chinese fought bravely in the second, erasing an early 12-8 deficit to level it at 17-all.

After the Italians surged away again with a 5-1 run for a comfortable 22-18 cushion, China steadily pulled within 24-23, only to find Matteo Martino tear open the defense put up by Bian Hongmin and Shi Hairong to smash it home for the set winner.

The Chinese fell behind again in the third set, but rallied to run off four points in a row to overtake the lead at 19-17 and held it to 22-20. After Italy cut it to 22-21 through an Emanuele Birarelli spike, Shi Hairong answered with a smash and Guo Peng came from the bench to score two consecutive points to clinch the set for China.
China continued with the momentum in the fourth, racing to a 17-12 lead and never looked back in the set.

Fang Yingchao finished with 20 points for the Chinese men, who are making their first Olympic appearance since the 1984 Los Angeles Games where they finished eighth.