China 1-0 Haiti: China claim three points despite Zhang Rui’s early dismissal

Both sides made two changes to their starting lineups ahead of this Group D clash at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, with Ruthny Mathurin replacing the injured Jennifer Limage, and Maudeline Morel taking Melchie Dumornay’s spot in the starting eleven for Haiti. Xu Guan was replaced by Zhu Yu between the sticks, with Zhang Xin dropped in favour of Yao Lingwei.

CHN: Zhu Yu; Chen Qiaozhu, Yao Wei, Wang Shanshan, Li Mengwen; Yang Lina, Yao Lingwei; Zhang Linyan, Zhang Rui, Wu Chengshu; Lou Jiahui

HAI: Théus; Mathurin, K Louis, Joseph, Petit-Frère; Pierre-Louis, Moryl; Mondésir, Jeudy, B Louis; Borgella

Haiti looked promising in their slender defeat to England last time out, and they were more than content to allow China to maintain possession in the early stages on Friday. Kerly Théus was ever so impressive against the Lionesses, and she was put to work once again as the Steel Roses sent a flurry of crosses towards the ‘keeper.

China’s first real chance game just twenty minutes into the match, as Wang Shanshan rose highest inside the penalty area as she tried to divert Zhang Linyan’s corner past the goalkeeper, but her effort was skewed wide of the woodwork. Another opportunity followed minutes later, with Zhang Linyan attempting to open the scoring with a free-kick from distance – though that was sent wide of the left post.

Yet China’s dominance would be cast into doubt just before the half-hour mark, as Zhang Rui was dismissed for a reckless studs-up tackle on Sherly Jeudy. The Haitian was left in pain, with her knee having taken the brunt of a simply outrageous challenge that made no attempt to play the ball.

Haiti looked to make use of their newfound numerical advantage just before the break, as Nérilia Mondésir found herself on the receiving end of Batcheba Louis’ through ball. She had Zhu Yu beaten, but was marginally offside – and the goal was correctly disallowed.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

The half-time introduction of Melchie Dumornay looked to pay off almost instantly, as she forced a phenomenal save from Zhu Yu to keep the game goalless. Nérilia Mondésir’s free-kick delivery was nudged towards the substitute by Kethna Louis, but her effort was tipped over the bar by the goalkeeper.

Ruthny Mathurin looked to have conceded a penalty with twenty minutes remaining, after hauling Zhang Linyan down inside the area. Despite the referee initially flagging the Chinese star as offside, a VAR review found that wasn’t the case – and China were offered a golden opportunity to take the lead despite being reduced to ten.

Wang Shuang’s effort from the spot was calm and composed, sending Kerly Théus the wrong way as she thumped an effort into the bottom-left corner. It looked as though Wang Shuang would be called to the spot again mere moments later as Zhang Linyan was the subject of another foul from the Haitian defence – VAR ruled against awarding a penalty on that occasion.

The VAR team were called into action yet again in stoppage time, after the on-field referee made the bizarre decision of blowing the whistle for a soft foul on Roseline Éloissant inside the area. In truth, it was a contentious shout in the first place – and the referee decided to overturn the decision after consulting the pitchside monitor.

Nérilia Mondésir had one final opportunity to level the match in the dying minutes, as she fired an effort across the face of goal under pressure from the Chinese defence. Had she gone down under said pressure, a penalty would have likely been awarded.

Three points for China leave Group D wide open ahead of the final round of Group Stage fixtures, with all four teams still able to qualify.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images