Saturday Jul 24, 2021. 15:08
Shepolopolo Zambia on Saturday failed to punish ten-man China after rallying from three-down to lead but finished 4-4 in their penultimate Group F match at Miyagi Stadium in Rifu.
But the result was a relief for Shepolopolo who redeemed themselves after losing 10-3 to Holland in their July 21 opener.
China too took some positives from the match following their 5-0 loss to Brazil on the same date.
China’s four-goal hero on the day Wang Shuang scored a first half hat-trick in the opening thirty minutes when she struck the target in the 6th, 22nd and 23rd minutes.
But Rachel Kundananji sparked Shepolopolo’s fight back in the midst of the Shuang show with a 15th minute header.
Kundananji then won a 43rd minute penalty after Yang Man fouled her in the area.
Barbara Banda stepped up to slot the ball home and score her first goal of the day en route to recording her second hat-trick in as many matches at the Olympics.
It didn’t take long after the restart for Banda to show her class again with a fine solo effort to beat Peng Shimeng.
Banda’s pace was again too much for the China defence in the 69th minute when she again left her markers in her wake to put Zambia ahead for the first time in the match.
Her pass for Kundananji in the 72nd minute almost made it five-four for Zambia but the latter sent the ball half a meter wide of the right post.
Shepolopolo would go on to rue that miss after Lushomo Mweemba’s 82nd minute handball gifted China a penalty.
Zambia goalkeeper Hazel Nali dived the right way but was inches short of Shuanga’s spot kick.
China were then reduced to ten women in the 85th minute when Li Qingtong pulled down Banda who had clear sight of goal.
However, China still managed to give Zambia a scare in stoppage time but thankfully Nali saved Shepolopolo’s blushes when she threw her body on the line to deny Shuang.
The result does little for both Shepolopolo and China’s best third place sides hopes with a point each heading into their final fixtures this Tuesday against Brazil and Holland respectively.