Wu Haiyan of China (L) vies with Cristiana Girelli of Italy during the round of 16 match between Italy and China at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in Montpellier, France, June 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Ding Xu)
MONTPELLIER, France, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Italy's first World Cup campaign in 20 years continued after ousting China with a convincing 2-0 win in the round of 16 here on Tuesday.
Milena Bertolini's side scored either side of the interval through AC Milan striker Valentina Giacinti and Juventus FC playmaker Aurora Galli, leaving the 1999 runners-up struggling on final dashes.
An error from China's defending line granted Italy the chance to break the deadlock on 15 minutes when Giacinti tabbed in a rebound.
Han Peng should have cleared it before Barbara Bonansea passed the ball through to Elisa Bartoli, who drove it towards the goal but was well saved by Chinese goalie Peng Shimeng, who conceded only one goal before Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Giacinti, playing as Italy's main point of attack and having a goal early ruled offside, sweetly stroked the loose ball in.
Four minutes into the second half, Galli doubled the lead with a powerful low strike from distance after the Le Azzurre's first-half substitute received the ball in a massive zone of space, took a touch and quickly launched the shot.
China enjoyed a 15-minute good spell at the end of the first half, but failed to turn any of their chances into real score though forcing out a dozen of great saves from Italian keeper Laura Giuliani.
Beijing Phoenix defender Wang Yan took a snapshot just before the half-hour mark and forced a fine save from the Juventus goalie, who stretched to tip the volley over the bar.
The Steel Roses also hit the woodwork before the break, though the video replay showed the Chinese attacker was on an offside position even if there had a goal.
Leading striker Wang Shanshan got fit in time to start for Tuesday's game, while Paris Saint-German playmaker Wang Shuang nearly made China's first attempt count in as early as the fourth minute.
Head coach Jia Xiuquan had pushed his squad more forward, leaving more spaces in the midfield and letting players like Wang Shuang and Li Ying create more chances in organizing attacks.
However, the former powerhouses of women's soccer, reaching the knockouts with just one goal for and one against, struggled on both the final steps in building an attack and posing a real challenge to the rivals' goal.
Italy, who reached the FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1991, will next face either Netherlands or Japan in Valenciennes on Saturday.
They've made it to the last eight of the quadrennial event only once, in the inaugural edition in China 28 years ago when the tournament only featured 12 teams and group stage directly led to the quarters.
China, on the other hand, had only once failed to make the last eight in World Cup history before the Italy match.