AFC Women's Asian Cup: China into finals after beating Japan in penalties

A strong-willed China went down by a goal twice in the match yet they equalized on both occasions.

Niladri Biswas
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AFC Women's Asian Cup: China into finals after beating Japan in penalties

Photo - Indian Express

China made an exceptional comeback against Japan in their AFC Women's Asian Cup semi-final tie. A strong-willed China went down by a goal twice in the match yet they equalized on both occasions. A 2-2 draw resulted in a penalty kick in which China came out victorious after a 4-3 win on penalties. With this gritty comeback, China is now into the finals of the AFC Women's Asian Cup and will face South Korea. Who beat the Philippines 2-0 on the same Balewadi Stadium in Pune.

2 times cup winner Japan took the lead twice in the match, the first one in the normal 90 minutes and the second one in extra time. But China was all prepared to reply every time Japan scored. However, the penalty thriller kept the steel roses in contention for their 9th title. China won seven consecutive titles between 1986 and 1989, however, their 8th one came in 2006.

AFC Women's Asian Cup: Progression of the Match

Japan was the strong starters of the match as they took an early test of the China goalkeeper Yu Zhu from a ranged attempt from Hinata Miyazawa. However, Riko Ueki slipped away their golden opportunity to put them in front just 3 minutes into the game.

Japan kept putting pressure as Ueki was threatening the Chinese defence with her quick footwork. On the other hand, Ruka Norimatsu's attempt in the sixth minute was parried away by Yu Zhu.

Photo Credit – News18

Japan steps up by putting pressure on Saki Kumagai and Mana Iwabuchi but both miss some crucial shots. However, the Chinese defence managed to maintain their composure.

However, it was Riko Ueki who found the breakthrough goal around the 26th-minute mark. It was Hinata Miyazawa who burst down the left flank and sent a perfect cross which set up Ueki brilliantly to finish it in the back of the net. In the meantime, Japan was again on the brink of doubling their lead with Miyazawa sending her long-range effort just wide.

The Second Half:

Just a few moments after the 2nd half resumed, China found their equalizer. Xiao Yuyi forced her way past a Japanese defence to send a delightful ball to Wu Chengshu to finish.

Japan, on the other hand, got a handful of opportunities and the most important one around the 75th minute. Ueki failed to find the back of the net from close range after Iwabuchi's cut-back.

AFC Women's Asian Cup: Extra Time and Penalties

After a close 1-1 draw, the match made its way to extra time. It was again Japan who almost took the lead around the 97th minute after Ueki set up Hasegawa nicely, which hit the crossbar.

But eventually, the Japanese forces got their lead back after a brilliant finish from Ueki; As she beat past China's offside trap to reach the header from the free-kick in the 103rd minute.

The Steel Roses never ever gave up on their hopes of equalising again. China skipper Wang Shanshan stepped up to score the equaliser as she reacted quickly to Zhang Xin's cross in the 119th minute to force the game into penalties. 

The Penalties:

Yu Zhu then saved the first and fifth penalties and Wang Shanshan, fittingly, scored the winner from the spot as China advanced to their first final since 2008.

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China Japan Afc Womens Asian Cup 2022 Yu Zhu Riko Ueki Ruka Norimatsu Wang Shanshan Zhang Xin