Winnipeg (Canada), June 16 (IANS) Two draws guaranteed Canada and China the top two places in Group A and berths in the knock-out round at the Women’s football World Cup here.
Hosts Canada were held 1-1 by the Netherlands on Monday to finish first in the group with five points, one win and two draws, while China tied New Zealand 2-2 to pocket four points, 1-1-1, on second, reports Xinhua.
The Dutch, who also had four points, lost to China in a previous game, but they still have chances to advance as one of the best third-placed teams.
Tagged as one of the hardest groups in the tournament, Group A is concluded with three 1-0 matches and three draws.
Canada went ahead only 10 minutes into the game when Ashley Lawrence intercepted a failed clearing from the Dutch and shot a 15-yard drive into the net.
The Dutch needed a win to qualify directly for the last 16 but their efforts went short until the dying minutes. Van De Ven scored a late goal with three minutes to go, but a draw was not enough for them to surpass China for a booked-berth of next round.
New Zealand, who had only one point before the match, needed nothing but a win to stay in the competition as they pitched out an attacking 4-3-3 tactical combination for the do-or-die game.
Benefiting from their all-out determination, Rebekah Stott grabbed a precious chance in the 28th minute as she caught a through corner kick on the far end of the post and fired home from a small angle for New Zealand’s early lead.
But Betsy Hassett was called a hand ball in the penalty area four minutes before the half-time. Wang Lisi scored the equaliser from the spot to tie it 1-1 before the break.
Defener Wang Shanshan scored an incredible driving header as she got a perfect contact from a pass from Wu Haiyan to put China in the driving seat after 60 minutes.
Hannah Wilkinson snapped China’s hope to finish atop in the group only four minutes later when she volleyed home a deep pass from the right side.
China will face the winners of a Group C match between Switzerland and Cameroon on June 20 while Canada will take on one of the best four third-placers next round.