Algarve Cup: China earn first point, Canada, Spain take 2nd straight wins

Santo Antonio (Portugal), March 4 (IANS) the Chinese women’s football team held Olympic silver medallists Sweden to a goalless draw to collect their first point at the 2017 Algarve Cup here.

In the other matches on Friday evening, unstoppable Canada and Spain recorded their respective second straight victories, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I’m very satisfied with what the team has done. Physically we don’t have any advantage in front of our European opponents, so we have to use our technique. Today we did a good job on that,” Chinese head coach Bruno Bini said.

Forward Wang Shanshan was put into the starting line-up at the expense of Li Ying, as the Chinese team hoped to build a solid start. Yang Li and Tang Jiali’s consecutive shots were blocked by Swedish goalie Hilda Carlen in the 20th minute, and the latter made brilliant saves on Wang’s two shots.

Sweden striker Lotta Schelin, 33, also had some chances to break the deadlock, only to see her shots denied by Chinese goalkeeper Zhao Lina and the defensive line ahead of her.

Sweden head coach Pia Sundhagev regretted that the result could have been different if they had started better.

“We did not start in a good way. China put much pressure on us, and we gave the ball away too often. Eventually we picked up the rhythm, and in the end we tried to have the winning goal, but we didn’t succeed,” Sundhagev commented.

Both teams shared the spoils after fruitless 90 minutes, bringing back the memory at the Rio Olympic Games, where China took on a point against Sweden to secure a last eight spot.

“It was totally different from the Rio Olympics as we missed several key players, like Li Dongna, Pang Fengyue and Gu Yasha,” said Bruno, adding that he was even more satisfied that the team were able to earn a draw without these key players.

As Australia edged past the Netherlands 3-2 in Friday’s other Group C match, China have lost their chance to finish atop the group and secure a berth in the final ahead of next Monday’s clash with Australia.

“We will not think too much about the group ranking,” said Bruno.

Christine Sinclair, who had clinched the winning goal for Canada in their campaign opener, scored another to spearhead her team’s 2-1 victory over Russia. Canada thus climbed to the top spot in Group A.

Denmark dismantled host Portugal 6-0 to be second in the group, ahead of Russia on goal difference.

Spain surprisingly topped Group B after thrashing three-time winners Norway 3-0. Former world champions Japan went back to winning ways by beating Iceland 2-0.

–IANS

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