|July 31st, 2012|
|9||Pool A||1:45pm||BEL - CHN||0 - 0||Final|
Second match of the day in Pool A was between Belgium and China. Silver medallist in Beijing, China were impressive on the opening day of the 2012 Olympic competition with a clean win over Korea (4-0), while Belgium lost their first ever match at the Olympics against The Netherlands (0-3).
Belgium started well, displaying excellent individual and collective skills. They pushed the Chinese back on their heels and earned an early penalty-corner. Stephanie de Groof slotted a powerful strike out of reach of Chinese keeper Zhang Yimeng, but the goal was denied after a video-referral. Most of play in the opening twenty minutes was in the Chinese defensive half, with a few good opportunities for the Belgians, but the Chinese weathered the storm with experience.
Belgium defended well four penalty-corners against expert flicker Ma Yibo and half-time was reached on a goalless score. The same balanced pattern prevailed at the start of second period. Belgium had a penalty-corner but could not do much of it in front of the fast Chinese runners. They were however playing with poise and skills, and a neutral observer could not have guessed that they were ranked 11 rows behind the Chinese in the World Rankings.
China progressively increased the pressure in the last 15 minutes of the match, played mostly in the Belgian half, but the Belgian defense, well backed by young Aisling D'Hoogue in goal, held tight. The Belgian fans in the stands were starting to see a possible exploit for their team, and the whole crowd were cheering for the underdogs in the final minutes. They forced a penalty-corner with one minute left on the clock and Stephanie de Groof’s shot shaved the outside of the post. Nevertheless, the Cinderella of the competition held on for the 0-0 tie, an excellent result for them.