Four goals by Wang Shuang salvage China's chances at Olympic women's football tournament
The Chinese women's football team squandered a 3-1 lead to be held 4-4 by Zambia at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
Zambian forward Babra Banda almost single-handedly helped her team to pull off a great comeback but that was eclipsed by Chinese striker Wang Shuang's four goals in the match.
China and Zambia were both vying for their first victory of the tournament following defeats in the first group round. China lost to Brazil 5-0 while Zambia was thrashed by the Netherlands 10-3.
Chinese head coach Jia Xiuquan made an adjustment to his lineup by sending in center forward Yang Man in the starting 11.
The match seemed to go China's way when Wang opened the scoring in the sixth minute as her shot in the box slipped through three Zambian defenders and the goalkeeper.
Following Zambia's equalizer from the header of Racheal Kundananji, Wang completed her hat-trick in the 23rd minute, giving China a 3-1 lead.
However, the tide of the match then turned in favor of Zambia, as Banda pulled one back by converting a penalty in the 42nd minute.
Banda completed her hat-trick for the second match in a row and handed her team the lead with two impressive runs to China's goal in the second half.
"I don't have a target but I just want to score as many goals as possible," said Banda after the match when asked if she had a goal target for the tournament after scoring six goals in two matches.
China was awarded a penalty when the score was tied 3-3 but was overruled by the video assistant referee (VAR). But after Zambia took the lead, the VAR helped the referee to identify a handball committed by the Zambian team in the box, and Wang scored her fourth goal with the penalty kick.
China almost took the lead again but Xiao Yuyi's strike was denied by the woodwork. Worse for China was that defender Li Qingtong had to stop Banda in Zambia's subsequent counterattack at the expense of a red card.
Wang had the golden opportunity for a victory but her shot was saved by the Zambian goalkeeper in the 94th minute just before the final whistle.
"The match was within our expectations but also full of surprises at the same time," Chinese head coach Jia told the post-match press conference. "There is still one match remaining so we still have the chance. What is important for us now is to do the debrief to see what we could take away from this match and make adjustments accordingly."
Jia admitted that the team could have done a better job in defending Banda, who has played in the Chinese women's football league. "Our players should have played the match more fearlessly, that's my hope for them in the next match."
China is drawn in Group F with Brazil, the Netherlands, and Zambia, and is ranked 3rd in the group with one point after two matches. Jia's side will face the Netherlands in the last match on Tuesday.
A total of 12 teams were divided into three groups, with the top two teams of each group and the two best third-placed teams advancing to the quarterfinals.