Albufeira, Portugal, Mar 2 : China suffered a 3-1 defeat to Norway in their first match at the 2019 Algarve Cup here.
China conceded three goals in the first half due to defensive errors. Isabell Herlovsen and Emilie Haavi both hit target, and Chinese team skipper Wu Haiyan nodded an own goal. Striker Wang Shanshan got one back for China before the final whistle.
China coach Jia Xiuquan dispatched a different starting roster for experiment with less than 100 days to go from the World Cup, with Wang Shimeng standing in front of goal, Li Ying and Wang Shanshan up in front. After the goalkeeper Wang failed to clear the ball, but rather brought Wu down, Norwegian forward Isabell Herlovsen could not expect a better chance to score in front of an empty goal only nine minutes into the game.
Herlovsen's teammate Ingrid Hjelmseth also had her contribution at the other end by consecutively denying Huang Yini and Gu Yasha's efforts.
Caroline Graham Hansen's shot inside the box deflected off Wu's header into far corner of the goal in the 30th minute, and it was ruled for an own goal.
Norway built a commanding three-goal advantage 12 minutes later, as Emilie Haavi won the ball possession over Chinese defender Wang Linlin before poking home.
Jia made several changes to the line-up after the restart, sending Paris Saint-Germain striker Wang Shuang on, which proved effective, especially in the team offense. Wang Shanshan wasted a golden chance by slicing wide an empty goal in the 58th minute. Her attacking partner Wang Shuang also saw a turnaround shot from a close range miss the target in the 75th minute.
Wang Shanshan got a consolation goal on the stroke of stoppage time. She chested down Gu Yasha's cross and swept home. For Jia, the score reflected the gap between the two sides, also because his team fared below par.
"European women's teams emphasize on body contact, which is Asian teams' weakness. We can have chances of winning matches only when we are used to that and show our characters, but it was not the case today. The defeat was no surprise to me," he pointed out.
Following consecutive victories over Denmark and China, Norway has secured a top position in Group C as there are three teams in each of four groups this year. China and Denmark will contend for runner-up in Monday's final round group match.
"We did very well in the game today," admitted the Norwegian head coach Martin Sjogren. "We also want to play an Asian team kind of resembling South Korea that we are going to play in June in the World Cup. We handled the game today very well. We made a good step in the right direction with the game today, but also with the game against Denmark." XINHUA-UNI