A very even battle between China PR and New Zealand ended 2-2 in Winnipeg, which was enough to send the Chinese through to the knockout phase of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ but sealed their opponents' elimination.
Early on, Wang Shanshan’s flash header surprised goalkeeper Erin Nayler, but the New Zealand No1 managed to keep it out. The game, while leaning in favour of the Football Ferns, stayed fairly balanced throughout the first half.
Rebekah Stott scored first for New Zealand, hammering home following a corner that somehow made its way through a crowd in the middle of the box for the centre-back to hammer home. But after Wang Lisi nearly scored a free-kick in the 34th minute, she equalised for China from the penalty spot – despite Nayler guessing correctly and almost getting and hand to her effort – when Betsy Hassett was judged to have handled the ball in her own area.
The second half once again began quite evenly matched between the two sides, but China pulled ahead with 30 minutes remaining courtesy of great service from captain Wu Haiyan to Wang Shanshan, who scored a brave header after losing her defender, just beating Nayler to the ball. China’s lead would only last four minutes, however, as Hannah Wilkinson equalised for the Football Ferns from a deep cross from the left that was put back into the box by Amber Hearn for the No17 to head past Wang Fei.
China could have earned the three points 15 minutes from time when Wang Lisi found Wang Shanshan alone in the area, but the No9 mishit her shot and it sprayed wide. Shanshan nearly kneed the ball over Nayler in the 84th minute but the goalkeeper showed great ability to tip her effort once again over the bar.
The result, a fair one in the end, earned both sides a point, which was not enough to keep New Zealand in the Great White North for the knockout stages but keeps the Chinese in Canada for at least one more match.
Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Annalie Longo (New Zealand)