Goals from captain Cui Qiuxia and Zhang Xiaoxue gave China their first FIH Pro League win on Wednesday (6 March), helping the Asian giants to a 2-1 triumph over Germany at the Wujin Hockey Stadium in Changzhou.
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The result sees China move up to seventh in the women’s FIH Pro League standings, while Germany’s first regulation time defeat leaves them in fifth position. To see the current league standings, click here.
China (WR:10) were forced to soak up plenty of pressure in an opening period dominated by Germany (FIH World Ranking: 5). Ace Germany forward Charlotte Stapenhorst twice went close to opening the scoring for the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallists, firing into the side netting from an acute angle before seeing a backhand strike from the top of the circle kicked to safety by the right foot of China’s ever-reliable goalkeeper Ye Jiao, who had another excellent game.
China’s defensive resilience continued in the early stages of the second quarter, with defender Li Jiaqi making a brilliantly timed tackle to deny Naomi Heyn a certain goal at the end of a well-worked penalty corner routine. Despite this chance, Germany’s grip on the contest had started to loosen, with Dan Wen and Gu Bingfeng going close before China made the breakthrough just before half time. China captain Cui Qiuxia found the net with a superb penalty corner deflection, diving in at the left post to convert a perfect pass from the influential Gu.
Things went from bad to worse for Germany in the third quarter when Zhang Xiaoxue produced a cool close range finish at the end of a rapid counter-attack to put China into a 2-0 lead.
Die Danas battled hard to find a route back into the contest but were thwarted by some outstanding defending from the hosts, who managed to keep Germany off the score-board until seven minutes from the end of the contest, when Hannah Gablac slapped home after great work from Viktoria Huse. It was the lifeline that Germany needed, but China’s resolve was not to be broken as the home favourites claimed their first victory in the inaugural edition of the FIH Pro League.
“It is amazing, right!”, said China captain and Player of the Match Cui Qiuxia at the end of the game. “We played very hard. I think before the game we needed confidence, so I am very proud of my teammates.”