China fought back from a 2-0 deficit to claim a share of the points in the first match of Pool D, the group that features the teams contesting the 5th to 8th positions at the Rabo FIH Champions Trophy in Amstelveen.
Australia stormed into a 2-0 lead in the first half thanks to penalty corner goals from Casey Eastham and Jodie Schulz, but China pulled one back before half time through Li Hongxia. The leveller came from Gao Lihua midway through the second period.
The result means that Australia remain at the top of Pool D with four points, having carried the three points from their final Pool B match forward into the second phase. China now have two points and sit in second place, although this could all change when England face Germany in the second match of the day here in Amstelveen.
Although both teams started positively, it was 16 minutes before the first real chance of the match arrived when Australia won two penalty corners in quick succession. The first effort was blocked by a China foot, but the Hockeyroos made no mistake with the second chance when Anna Flanagan picked out the unmarked Casey Eastham at the left post who calmly guided the ball into the empty net.
A third Australian penalty soon arrived but the China defence held firm. However, Chinas were not so lucky when they conceded a fourth PC when was clinically dispatched by Jodie Schulz who sent her drag-flick to the right goalkeeper Zhang Yimeng.
The goal was further evidence that Australia had worked hard to improve their penalty corner conversion rate, having only scored once from 16 previous attempts ahead of this match.
China pulled a goal back with a penalty corner five minutes from half time, although the Australia defence made four superb blocks before China captain Li Hongxia cracked a reverse stick shot through a crowd of players and into the bottom right corner.
China hit the ground running at the start of the second period, but struggled to find a way past Australian keeper Rachael Lynch who produced a string of excellent saves to keep her side ahead.
The Hockeyroos thought that they had re-established their two goal advantage in the 50th minute when a melee in the circle was volleyed into the net by Megan Rivers, but a smart video referral from China ruled out the goal due to an infringement.
Despite this, China were excellent in the second half a deservedly drew level when a long ball pass from midfield found Mao Weilin through on goal. The China striker could have easily taken the glory herself but instead rolled the ball past the onrushing Lynch to Gao Lihua who tapped into an open goal.
Both sides went close in the final 15 minutes, although arguably the best opportunity fell to China’s Mao who missed the target with a deflected effort with six minutes remaining.
Review 13. China vs Australia 2-2 - Rabo FIH Champions Trophy 2011
> China came back from 2 goals down to draw, like they did in their opening match against Korea (2-2).
> Australia still lead Pool D with 4 points from 2 matches, China are now on 2 points.
> Australia have now drawn their last 4 world level matches with China: 2-2 at the 2009 and 2010 CT, 2-2 at 2008 Olympics and 3-3 at 2008 CT.
> Australia scored 2 of 5 penalty corners awarded in this match.
> The Hockeyroos are now on 3 for 21 at Amstelveen 2011.
> Australian captain Madonna Blyth collected her 200th cap today.
> Casey Eastham and Jodie Schulz are now on 2 goals each at the 2011 CT.
> Eastham is now on 6 CT career goals, leading Megan Rivers (5) and Madonna Blyth (5) as CT top scorers in the current Australia squad.
> China captain Li Hongxia converted China 1 of China’s 5 penalty corners in this match.
> China are now on 5 goals at Amstelveen 2011, including 4 from penalty corners.
> Goa Lihua scored China’s first field goal at Amstelveen 2011. It also marked her first CT goal since 2005.
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