By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - The United States maintained their record of having reached every semi-final of the women's World Cup after their 1-0 win over China on Friday set up a last four encounter with Germany.
The Americans came into the quarter-final in Ottawa missing two key players through suspension but proved far too strong for a young, defensively-minded Chinese side, who seemed more and more intimidated as the game went on.
Captain Carli Lloyd scored the winner in the 51st minute, jumping high to head home a long looping cross from defender Julie Johnston.
Ali Krieger also hit the post with a drive in the 73rd minute.
The win earned the Americans a semi-final slot next Tuesday in Montreal against Germany, who earlier beat France on penalties after their game finished 1-1 after extra time.
"I think it was a very good performance tonight ... the players have a good feeling leaving the field and that will help buoy us going into the Germany game," said coach Jill Ellis.
After being criticized for sluggish play earlier in the tournament, the United States looked much sharper and pressured the Chinese from the start, with only some wayward finishing preventing them from scoring several goals.
World Cup winners in 1991 and 1999, the Americans showed no signs of being hampered by the suspensions of first-choice midfielders Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe.
"We wanted to come out hard and strong from the start ... the more pressure we put China under the more they coughed the ball up," said Lloyd.
"I think we're going to be flying next game."
Tuesday's match will be a repeat of the 2003 semi-final, which Germany won 3-0.
Ellis dismissed the suggestion her team might be fresher than Germany, who had to play 120 minutes on Friday.
"I don't think it impacts the players at this level," she said, noting her side had had two days fewer than China to prepare for the quarter-final.
The extra rest did not help a Chinese team with an average age of 24. They had scored four goals coming into the game and never troubled U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.
Chinese coach Hao Wei blamed himself, saying he had chosen the wrong tactics.
"We lost the game because of me," he said, adding that he had set his team the goal of reaching the semi-finals.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)