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Steel Roses beat New Zealand to set up Brazil showdown

Chongqing: China PR took the first step in Tokyo 2020 Olympics preparations, beating New Zealand 2-0 to advance to Sunday’s Yongchuan International Tournament Final against Brazil.

Reigning AFC Women’s Player of the Year Wang Shuang scored both goals for the Steel Roses, who prevailed in their first game since their FIFA Women’s World Cup exit in June.

Earlier, Brazil booked their place in the weekend’s decider with a 4-0 thumping of Canada, who suffered their second heavy defeat on Asian soil in as many months after October’s 4-0 loss to Japan.

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China began with Bi Xiaolin in goal and with Ma Jun donning the captain’s armband as the 16th-ranked Steel Roses looked to overcome a New Zealand side seven places below them in the latest FIFA list.

But the Football Ferns showed they would take some beating when they created early chances for both Hannah Wilkinson and Ria Percival, with Bi having to intervene on more than one occasion in the opening 20 minutes to keep the sides level.

Jia Xiuquan’s side did manage to create some chances of their own in the opening period, but neither team managed to produce an opening goal as the interval arrived with the score at 0-0.

The experienced attacking trio of Li Ying, Yang Li and Gu Yasha were introduced just before the hour mark, and it was the latter who made a near-instant impact, supplying a cross from the left side, which Wang nodded into back of the net at the far post to give China a 61st-minute lead.

New Zealand determinedly chased an equaliser, but their adventurousness played a major role in Wang’s injury-time sealer, with the former Paris Saint-Germain star capitalising on a nearly empty New Zealand defensive half to clip the ball beyond out-of-position goalkeeper Erin Nayler and into the net from fully 40 yards.

China will face Brazil at the same venue on Sunday, two years after the last meeting between the two sides, also in Chongqing, finished 2-2.

Photo: Chinese Football Association

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