China and Mexico battle to hard-fought draw (1:1)
China and Mexico met in the second Group F encounter at the Pampeloponnisiako stadium in Patras with the Asians under huge pressure to redress their catastrophic 8-0 opening day loss to Germany. Coach Haitao Zhang had a surprise in store for the crowd as star striker Han Duan was relegated to the bench, Ouying Zhang starting in her place.
China opened brightly in temperatures rising to 33 degrees in the shade. The first chance fell to Wei Teng, collecting a diagonal ball into the box after seven minutes but finding only the side-netting from nine metres out. At the other end of the field, Maribel Dominguez fired goalwards but the effort slid narrowly wide.
Dominguez had more luck with her second attempt, profiting from a defensive mix-up on 11 minutes to burst between the Chinese centre-halves and let go a 12-metre drive. Keeper Zhen Xiao parried but Dominguez netted the rebound to put her side a goal up.
The Mexican striker looked the classiest act on the park at this stage, her pace and movement creating pandemonium in front of the China goal. However, midway through the half the Asian outfit upped the tempo and created a string of presentable opportunities, the best of them criminally squandered by Liping Ren who should have scored after a corner but saw her misdirected header scrambled to safety.
|both side pressed in a suffocating affair|
Wei Teng had two excellent chances directly after the restart as the Chinese picked up where they had left off in the first period, but the striker failed to register and missed a number of promising situations in the following phase.
On 70 minutes, Wei Pu directed a long ball towards substitute Han Duan at the far post only for the attacker to come up inches short of connecting as the Mexicans struggled for a way out of their opponents' iron grip.
With eight minutes remaining, China gathered their forces for a final assault but Ting Ji saw her 18-metre drive touched over the bar by the Mexican keeper in a cameo of the Asian side's major deficiency, an inability to turn well-worked moves into goals. For their part, the Mexicans vanished as an attacking force after half-time and Zhen Xiao was left without a shot to save. The 1-1 final scoreline flattered Mexico, who likely have most to gain from the draw.
"I don't believe it's possible Germany will beat Mexico 9-0," distraught China coach Haitao Zhang commented afterwards. His opposite number Leonardo Cuellar was delighted: "That's a great result for us after we landed in the toughest group. Now we'll really have to show what we're made of."