Mon, 16 May 2022

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 23 (ANI): Eight-time champions China PR further underlined their AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 title credentials, cruising to a 7-0 win over Islamic Republic of Iran at Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday.

Wang Shuang scored a birthday brace as Shui Qingxia's side booked their quarter-final spot following India's withdrawal from the tournament later on Sunday due to COVID-19 complications.

For Iran, the result means they have to defeat Chinese Taipei on Wednesday to advance to the knockout stage.

The Steel Roses returned to the scene of Thursday's 4-0 win over Chinese Taipei eager to build on their fast start, and they quickly assumed control against a deep-lying Iranian defence.

Wang Shanshan forced a strong save from Zohreh Koudaei in the 10th minute, and the star goalkeeper got down low to deny the Chinese captain once again five minutes later, continuing the form which saw her voted Player of the Match in Thursday's 0-0 draw against India.

It seemed that it would take something special to beat Iran's number one, and that's exactly what Wang Shuang provided in the 28th minute, picking out the bottom corner with a perfectly directed left-footed effort from the edge of the box to celebrate her 27th birthday in style.

Maryam Irandoost's side were never easily broken down, but China produced a move that would have picked apart all be the very best defences just before half time, with Zhang Xin's slide-rule pass setting up Xiao Yuyi, who duly caressed the ball into the net to make it 2-0 two minutes before half time.

Iran's dynamic teenage striker Negin Zandi was introduced at half-time as Team Melli Banovan looked for a way back into the match, but their cause suffered a significant blow when Melika Motevalli clumsily fouled Chinese substitute Li Mengwen, with Wang Shuang easily beating Koudaei from the penalty spot to make the points all but safe in the 49th minute.

The earlier intensity of the game now noticeably absent, Wang Shanshan extended the scoring further when she poked home Xiao Yuyi's cross in 55th minute, and the same duo teamed up four minutes later to increase the tally to five.

China's superior fitness and technique was evident throughout the second half, and they duly added a sixth through Tang Jiali 77th minute, with the Tottenham forward finding the net with the swerving effort 15 minutes after her introduction as a substitute, before adding a speculative second when her lobbed pass was helped in by Fatemeh Adeli's touch.

The Steel Roses won the AFC Women's Asian Cup a record seven consecutive teams between 1986 and 1999, but haven't added to their tally since lifting the 2006 title in Australia. (ANI)

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