Sun, 22 May 2022

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 20 (ANI): China PR made a dream start to their AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 campaign, easing to a 4-0 win over Chinese Taipei in a sun-bathed tournament opener at Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday.

Appearing on the international stage for the first time since July 2020, the Steel Roses took little time to get going, scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes to all but extinguish Chinese Taipei's hopes of an upset in their first appearance at the Finals since 2008.

Wang Shuang was the headline act with two goals and an assist in Shui Qingxia's first game as head coach, with Wang Shanshan and Zhang Xin also getting on the scoresheet in a comprehensive win.

The first game of the 2022 Finals featured two teams who have won the competition 11 times between them, but it was clear within minutes that China PR are the side more likely to add to their trophy haul in the weeks ahead.

The eight-time champions were awarded a penalty kick within 90 seconds after youngster Zhang Linyan was fouled by Pan Yen-Hsin, with Wang Shuang easing the ball home from 12 yards to give India 2022 its first goal just three minutes after it had begun.

Chinese Taipei's unfulfilled three-decade bid to defeat their East Asian neighbours looked destined to continue when Wang Shanshan registered her 53rd international goal six minutes after, rising high to head home Gao Chen's cross with the help of the upright in the ninth minute.

While Kazuo Echigo's side improved defensively as the first half went on China's dominance was reflected in their 78 per cent possession tally at the interval, and they went further ahead when the excellent Zhang Xin received Wang Shuang's pass before coolly stroking the ball beyond Cheng Ssu-Yu to make it 3-0 in the 54th minute.

Wang Shuang showed her class again in the 68th minute, wrong-footing the Chinese Taipei defence with a neat turn before slamming home her second goal of the afternoon.

The outstanding Wang nearly created another goal when she found Li Ying with a defence-splitting pass in the 76th minute, only for the substitute's effort to cannon into the upright, and it was only a fine save from Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Cheng that prevented the newly introduced Tang Jiali from adding a fifth minutes later.

Their bid for a ninth title off to the best possible start, China PR's attention turns to Sunday's meeting with Islamic Republic of Iran, while Chinese Taipei face a potentially crucial clash with tournament hosts India in Navi Mumbai. (ANI)

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