Luo Guiping (C) of China vies with Stephanie Catley (L) of Australia during the Women's Olympic Football Tournament 2020 Qualifiers match between Australia and China in Sydney, Australia, Feb. 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)
SYDNEY, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Australia scored a last-minute goal to get a 1-1 draw against China in their final group game of the women's Olympic football qualification tournament on Thursday.
Prior to the clash characterised by attack-mindedness, tireless running, close pressing, deft passes and brilliant goals, both sides had qualified for the last-round playoffs with two wins from as many matches.
The determination of China to win a better position in the playoffs was shown in their efforts against Australia as their well-organised and disciplined team play held the hosts' attack at bay throughout 90 minutes.
China's attacking genius flashed at the 86th minute when forward Tang Jiali collected a short pass from teammate Ma Jun and took a lateral run facing the gaol before firing a lethal strike past Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
Australia, who managed four shots on goal against China's seven, equalised on their last effort at the 92nd minute through midfielder Emily van Egmond who found herself unmarked before the box and sent a fierce shot into the left top corner of the goal.
Australia, who finished first on a better goal difference in Group B following the draw, will face Group A runners-up Vietnam in the two-legged playoffs, where China will play Group A top finisher South Korea.
China will play the first leg at South Korea on March 6, and the return leg will be played five days late at a place which the Chinese Football Association (CFA) have yet to decided on.
Given the concerns over the novel coronavirus in China, there exists the possibility that CFA will move their home leg abroad.
The matches of Group B, which also features Thailand, Chinese Taipei in addition to China and Australia, were originally set to take place in Wuhan, China from February 3 to 9. Due to the outbreak of the epidemic in the city, the fixtures were initially moved to China's eastern city of Nanjing, before being moved again to Sydney, Australia.
The Chinese team, with four players stranded in Wuhan which had been locked down to contain the spread of the virus, were quarantined for one week in Brisbane, Australia.