Second half blitz powers China PR to third place
Amman: China PR concluded their AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018 campaign in style on Friday thanks to a 3-1 win over Thailand in the play-off for third place at the Amman International Stadium.
Goals from the prolific Li Ying, Wang Shanshan and Song Duan helped seal the comprehensive victory, one which will undoubtedly offer Siggi Eyjolfsson’s charges a degree of recompense following their failure to reach the final.
For Thailand, meanwhile, the defeat brought an end to the Southeast Asians’ impressive continental outing as they bowed out of the tournament with their heads held high and reputation unquestionably enhanced.
China had never lost to Thailand in 13 previous meetings, and it was the East Asians who looked the brighter of the two teams early on with a fierce Gu Yasha drive forcing goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing into a smart save.
Thailand responded through a dipping Nipawan Panyosuk shot which custodian Peng Shimeng did well to tip over, before Song came close to giving China the lead courtesy of a superb volley that flashed narrowly wide of Waraporn’s left-hand post on 15 minutes.
With China continuing to press, influential midfielder Wang Shuang saw her 36th minute strike from 12 yards comfortably gathered by Waraporn and, in the final genuine chance of the half, tournament leading scorer Li Ying’s scuffed effort from close-range was once again held by the impressive Waraporn.
The breakthrough duly came six minutes after the restart, Li Danyang’s astute pass finding Li Ying who turned and unleashed a terrific shot that nestled into the corner of the net to register her seventh goal of the competition.
Worse was to come for Thailand however, as first Wang Shanshan reacted quickest to turn the ball home after Waraporn had parried Ren Guixin’s initial effort, and then Song made it 3-0 from 25 yards following hesitation in the Thai defence with an hour played.
Thailand briefly threatened to stage a stirring comeback when Rattikan Thongsombut netted from close range on 81 minutes after Silawan Intamee’s shot had ricocheted back off both uprights.
It was not to be though for Nuengrutai Srathongivan’s side, as China resolutely held on to confirm the win and leave Jordan as the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018’s third-placed team.
Siggi Eyjolfsson - China PR head coach
“I am very happy with our win. I thought we had to be very patient during the first half, but I thought we dominated the game for long periods and were able to score three goals after the break. Overall, we have had five games and four wins, so it has been a very good tournament for us and we are delighted to go back having finished third. We want more, so we have some work ahead of us. We want to get closer to the top teams in Asia which will take some time, but we aim to get there.”
Nuengrutai Srathongivan - Thailand head coach
“We consider this tournament to have been a success for us. We have seen a vast improvement in our team and I believe my players have gained valuable experience. What we have learned here is very important and playing against such top teams has been invaluable as we are still developing as a team. I believe the next 12 months for the Thailand team will be very interesting.”