China stun Japan in AFC Women’s Asian Cup semifinals, face Korea in final

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A plucky China recovered from a goal conceded twice before defeating two-time defending champions Japan 4-3 on penalties in the semi-finals to book a pinnacle clash against Korea in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup here Thursday.

Japan led twice in the match, first in normal time and second in extra time, but China always had answers to take the match to a penalty shootout at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.

When the epic match ended 2-2 after extra time, China prevailed 4-3 in the dramatic penalty shoot-out to stay on course for a record-extending ninth title in the continental final.

The Steel Roses had won seven straight titles between 1986 and 1989 before adding another in 2006.

Japan, who had triumphed in 2014 and 2018, dominated the match but wasted opportunities to miss in their bid for a title hat-trick.

Previously, in the first semi-finals at the same venue, Korea defeated the Philippines 2-0 to reach their first semi-final.

The summit clash will be played at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Sunday.

Japan made their intentions clear in the first minute with Hinata Miyazawa testing Chinese keeper Yu Zhu from distance, while Riko Ueki squandered a golden opportunity to put the defending champions ahead three minutes later from inside the box.

Ueki was a constant threat and almost found the breakthrough after Ruka Norimatsu put her ahead on goal in the sixth minute, but Chinese goalkeeper Yu Zhu quickly blocked the effort from the forward.

Japan increased the pressure with Saki Kumagai and Mana Iwabuchi outside the six-yard box as China soaked up the pressure.

Japan should have taken the lead in the 21st minute when Hinata Miyazawa sent in a delicious through ball, but Ueki’s effort from close range was stopped by a Yu Zhu drive.

China’s defence, however, was finally broken in the 26th minute when Hinata Miyazawa burst down the left flank and sent a perfect cross to Ueki, who scored with a header past Yu Zhu.

Japan came close to extending their lead at the stroke of halftime with Miyazawa sending his long-range shot just wide with just one goal separating the teams heading into halftime.

Japan’s missed chances cost them dearly, as China equalized just a minute after the restart, with Xiao Yuyi weaving her way through a score before sending a delicious ball to Wu Chengshu to finish.

Japan came close to responding with a goal eight minutes later when Miyazawa set up Iwabuchi nicely at the top of the box, but the midfielder couldn’t find the target and sent her shot wide.

Japan should have taken the lead in the 75th minute, but Ueki couldn’t find the back of the net from close range after Iwabuchi’s cut, and extra time was needed to decide the semi-final.

China survived a scare in the 97th minute when Ueki set Hasegawa up nicely at the top of the box, but the midfielder’s shot was parried off the crossbar.

Japan’s persistence finally paid off in the 103rd minute after Ueki overcame China’s offside trap to finish off Hasegawa’s free kick with a diving header.

Yu Zhu then had to save Hasegawa’s shot from inside the box and Ueki’s header moments later as Japan took a 2-1 lead before the second half of extra time.

China failed to make much progress in the second period, but just when Japan thought they had secured their place in the final, China’s captain Wang Shanshan scored the equalizer as she reacted quicker to Zhang Xin’s cross in the 119th minute. to force the game. in sorrows

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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