Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Osaka: Emily Van Egmond netted a spectacular long range strike with five minutes remaining as Australia finished top of the AFC Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 qualifiers after sharing a 1-1 draw with China at Nagai Stadium on Wednesday.
Ma Xiaoxu’s 16th minute header opened the scoring for China, who along with Australia, had already secured qualification for Brazil 2016 with a game to spare.
But Van Egmond’s 25 yard strike five minutes from time saw the points shared as the pair completed unbeaten campaigns in Osaka.
“It was a tough game with both teams coming in on a high after having already qualified, and maybe that showed a little,” said Australia coach Alen Stajcic.
“Things were a little disjointed at times, but we ended up with an equaliser which I think was probably a fair result.
“It was an issue with accumulated physical and mental fatigue and it was a little bit different in terms of motivation, but we learned a lot about some of the younger players which is important going forward.”
With both nations already qualified for Brazil 2016, both coaches took the chance to rotate their squads on a cold and wet evening.
And after an opening 10 minutes in which both sides saw half chances sail wide, China went ahead after 16 minutes as Liu Shanshan picked up the ball on the left and sent in a curling cross that was met by Ma, who leapt above Laura Alleyway and powered a header past the diving Mackenzie Arnold in the Australia goal.
Ma then had a chance to extend China’s lead eight minutes later, but this time she could not direct her header on target.
Australia’s Kyah Simon then saw a shot flash just wide and China’s Wang Shanshan had another header that also failed to trouble Arnold just before half-time.
Lou Jiahui sent an early warning shot as the second half got underway and substitute Ren Guixin tried her luck from distance shortly after the hour as China pressed to extend their lead.
But after China had dominated large periods of the second half, it was Australia who struck a late blow to level the contest as Van Egmond launched a first time shot from 25 yards that dipped and swerved past goalkeeper Zhao Lina and into the top corner.
“We shouldn’t be satisfied, but the players did a wonderful game in a technical and tactical approach and Australia had one fantastic moment,” said China coach Bruno Bini.
“The main reason we qualified is that we have good players of high quality and the FA gave us good support and in a tournament like this. We need some little things which are important and we had those.”
Photo: Lagardère Sports