Van Egmond's late equaliser stuns China PR and secures top spot for Westfield Matildas

Emily van Egmond's stunning stoppage time effort ensured Australia finished the third round of the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament top of Group B after a tense 1-1 draw with China PR on Thursday night at Parramatta Stadium.

Chances came thick and fast as the Westfield Matildas and their opponents went blow for blow but neither side were able to break the deadlock until Tang Jiali popped up with a brilliant strike in the 86th minute.

But just as it appeared China would leapfrog Australia into pole position, van Egmond hamered in a brilliant injury time equaliser.

The result means Ante Milicic's side finish Group B top and will face Vietnam in a winner-takes-all, two-legged playoff – set to be played in March in Newcastle – for a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s football competition. 

READ: Westfield Matildas Newcastle-bound on road to Tokyo

China PR will face Korea Republic having finished Group runners-up.

Milicic made seven changes to the side which beat Thailand 6-0 on Monday, including a first start of the tournament for captain Sam Kerr.

However, it would be The Steel Roses who came closest to marking an exciting start with a goal. Australia had not conceded a single shot on target all tournament prior to kick off but, on a night where goalkeeper Lydia Williams joined Melissa Barbieri on 86 caps, the Melbourne City shot stopper was the busier of the two keepers in the opening exchanges. 
 


GAME ONE HIGHLIGHTS: Westfield Matildas v Chinese Taipei
GAME TWO HIGHLIGHTS: Westfield Matildas v Thailand

Williams saw Wang Shanshan misdirect her header from underneath the post, while at the other end, opposite number Peng Shimeng was called into action to deny Elise Kellond-Knight's spectacular free kick. 

Kerr then steered Ellie Carpenter's cross wide and Chloe Logarzo could not direct Hayley Raso's centre home as Australia rallied.

China hit the post through Shanshan on the cusp of half time, and Williams was called into action after the break to parry Jiali's effort to safety.

Ellie Carpenter and Caitlin Foord kept Shimeng on guard, while China spurned a glorious opportunity to take the lead via Li Ying.

Kerr could not convert a the back post, before Jiali's brilliant turn and shot on the edge of the box forced Williams into another good stop.

A stunning finish from Jiali, who fired low and hard past Williams after a brilliant interchange with Ma Jun, put China in front until van Egmond stepped up to equalise for Australia in stunning style. 

 

Upcoming Matches – Westfield Matildas 

Match Schedule – Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Play-Off

Australia v Vietnam
Date: Friday, 6 March 2020
Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle, New South Wales
Tickets: www.matildas.com.au
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC TV (iview & eastern states, delayed in other states & territories), and the My Football Live App

Vietnam v Australia
Date: Wednesday, 11 March 2020
Kick-off: TBC
Venue: TBC
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC TV (iview & eastern states, delayed in other states & territories), and the My Football Live App

International Friendly 
United States of America v Australia
Date: Friday, 10 April 2020 (local time)
Kick-off: To be confirmed 
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah, USA
Tickets: www.ussoccer.com

International Friendly
Canada v Australia 
Date: Tuesday, 14 April 2020 (local time) 
Kick-off: 7.30pm – 12.30pm Wednesday, 15 April 2020 
Venue: BC Place, Vancouver, Canada 
Tickets: www.canadasoccer.com