China 0 vs. 3 Italy
11.00am push back
We are nine minutes into the game and there has finally been our first shot. Italy win the ball in their third quarter going forward and 27 year old Giuliana Ruggieri drives to the top of the ‘D’ and takes a shot that narrowly misses the keepers left post. So far the lowest ranked team in the tournament (#17) have had marginally the better of the game so far.
An eleventh minute attack from the Chinese down the right hand side sees the ball centred and a shot blocked at the back post. It goes up the Italian defender’s stick and hits her body for the first short corner of the match. The resulting shot is deflected wide by the second runner. They regain the ball in the left hand corner and fire in a near post shot, which is saved by the keeper. The game is picking up now, with a few more circle entries. In the fourteenth minute Yang Ping wins a long corner after hitting the keeper from a tight angle.
At the end of the first period, the scores on the doors are 0 – 0.
Into the second quarter and Italy take the lead. The ball is played in from a right angle. An Italian picks it up and turns. The ball bounces up and number 7 Valentina Braconi scores on the volley. It is a deserved lead, made sweater shortly afterwards as the China’s Xiaoming Song is shown a green.
In the fourth minute there’s another short corner for China. It’s pushed out to the second castle, and after a spilt trap is played to outside right post for a deflection, but it’s too slow and Italians are able to clear their lines.
A little while later, a long ball is played down the left flank. Italy’s Elisabetta Pacella gets onto it, after playing in a high position. She collects it at a tight angle and only manages to flash the ball across the goal and off the pitch. The China team are playing a passing/possession game, but going about it slowly. Italy, are a bit more direct.
With three minutes left of the half, China get their third short corner. It is hit straight at keeper. Number 3 Xiaoming Song, back on the pitch, goes for the rebound, but the Italian keeper is up to the challenge and her second save in quick succesion.
Xiaoming Song is sinned binned again with a yellow card, her second card of the game. She will spend most of the 10 minute suspension in the next quarter as this one comes to a close. Chinese discipline, in particular that of their 20 player is becoming an issue, as they will have played with 10 players for nearly the length of an entire period. At half time it is Italy 1 – 0 China.
In the second minute of the third quarter Italy drive into the circle from the left and win a short corner. It is their first of the game so far and they make it count. #27 scores. The ball is injected to the second castle, played outside of the right post for a deflection, very similar to the Australian corner that Rosie Malone scored last night. This time the Italians are the one’s benefitting from a set piece routine and number 27 Lara Oviedo tucks it away.
We are well into the second half now and I’m struggling to find a Chinese player that stands out. They are very industrious and are playing a team orientated passing game, but there doesn’t seem to be a player who can turn a game, or do something special to get them back into this competition. With three minutes of the period to go, they try to prove me wrong.18 year old Jiaqi Zhong receives the ball on the left wing, drives towards the baseline and tries to sneak one in at the near post, but it hits the outside side of the backboard and is turned over to the Italians, who’s number 2 Celina Traverse is given a green card for an infringement for something in the build up to that shot. At this point China take of keeper, Jiao Ye, for an outfield kicking back in order to try and get a goal back before the break. It’s a tactic that doesn’t work. With 21 seconds remaining, Italy drive in from the right moving the ball to the top of the ‘D’. Giuliana Ruggieri picks it up, moves the ball out of the way of the oncoming Chinese defender and slots it into the open goal.
Italy’s formation seems moderately fluid. Sometimes 4 at the back, sometimes a 3 4 3, other times a 3 2 3 2. There seems to be an intelligence about they way move around the pitch and adapt to what is happening in the game. In the 6th minute of the final quarter their number 9, Maria Garraffo drives across the top of the ‘D’ and fires a reverse stick shot towards the goal, but is comfortably saved. Shortly afterwards, Marcela Casale wins the ball around the half way line, combines with Valentina Braconi to eliminate the Chinese defender and drives into the circle. She takes on the keeper and is fouled for a short corner. The ball is played out to the first castle and smashed to the keepers right, but saved…
At full time it is three nil to Italy, with Lara Oviedo winning the Player of the Match award