China earns first victory at Algarve Cup
Ferreiras (Portugal), March 12 : China beat Iceland 1-0 in their last group match to gain their first victory at the Algarve Women's Football Cup.
Central defender Zeng Ying headed the corner Monday to the net 18 minutes after the restart ensuring China remain in third place in Group B. It's the third straight encounter between the two in the yearly tournament where Iceland had won the last two, reports Xinhua.
China, having earned a 1-1 draw with Sweden and suffered a 0-5 defeat against the United States, will fight for a fifth place finish against Japan, who stood third in Group A with one win after two straight defeats.
The USA will play against Group A leader Germany in the final. Sweden will fight for third against Norway.
China, captained by Pu Wei, the only current player who had been a member of the 1999 World Cup runners-up team, took the upper hand in the first half with more open chances.
The best opportunity for the two-time cup winners came after 11 minutes. Ma Xiaoxu, the former Woman Footballer of the Year in Asia, picked up a through pass and dashed into the area from the left flank.
However, the central forward failed to beat a diving save from Iceland's keeper Thorab Helgadottir, only seeing her low shot parried away. Iceland also wasted a golden chance in the first 45 minutes as their striker struck the ball wide in front of an empty net after one Chinese defender made a faulty pass just near the edge of box.
With a starting 4-2-3-1 formation, China tried to control the ball with a possession-domination style. They did well for some time but found it hard to push forward. This meant they had more ball possession but lacked creative mind and team work to threaten Iceland's gate.
With one goal behind, Iceland repressed the opponent's passes with a high defensive line. China then found hard to link the back four with the front line. But they fought to the last minute and sealed the victory with determined defence.