DPR Korea was held to a goalless draw by a ten-man China at the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) Women's Championship in Chongqing, Southwest China on Thursday.
Receiving two yellow cards in the previous game against South Korea, Chinese skipper Li Jie were sidelined in this East Asian top-level clash. Facing the loss of the veteran defender, the Chinese side chose to focus on their backyard.
The Koreans looked comfortably in control from the very start of the game, forcing most Chinese players to guard in their penalty area. It took the home fans nearly 40 minutes to see China's first and only shooting chance in the first half, when Xie Caixia's long-range shot soared far beyond the bar.
DPR Korea's best scoring opportunities came in the 51 minute when their forward Kim Yong Ae fell down in the area and earned a penalty. But DPRK captain Ri Kum Suk's slack shot failed to beat Chinese goalie Zhang Yanru.
The Chinese side had to play short-handed twenty minutes from the whistle when their midfielder Bi Yan was shown the second yellow and ousted by the referee.
Keeper Zhang produced a series of inspiring saves in the final minutes to secure China from an embarrassing last gasp defeat in front of a jubilant crowd of 30,000.
"I am proud of my players," said Chinese coach Loisel Elisabeth after the match. "DPR Korea is a strong and fast team with outstanding performance in the 2007 World Cup. I am satisfied that we can earn a draw with a one-person deficit."
"Li Jie is the backbone of the team, and her absence was a great loss to the team. In spite of several minor errors, the defending players, especially goalkeeper Zhang really impressed me," Elisabeth added.
With the hard-earned one point, China is now lagging two points behind Japan. The two sides will meet in the final round of the four-team tournament and China needs a victory to claim the title.
(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2008)