When it came to the statistics the New Zealanders looked good – ten shots on goal compared to China’s three, five penalty corners and double the amount of circle penetrations – but it was little consolation for the Kiwis when they left the field at full time.
“I thought we were disappointing in the attacking third, we created enough opportunities to win the game but did not convert these,” said head coach Mark Hager.
“Our basic skills also let us down and needs to improve as we move on in the tournament. Now we just need to refocus on the next challenge ahead which is our game tomorrow against Argentina,” says Hager.
Both sides had their fair share of penalty corners in the first half, but only Cui Qiuxia made the most of it when she tapped it passed goalkeeper Sally Rutherford in the sixth minute. China looked sure to double their lead when they were awarded a penalty stroke following a video referral from China, but Rutherford brilliantly saved it and the score remained 1-0.
The Black Sticks picked up the pace in the last ten minutes of the first half with outstanding Chinese goalkeeper Li Dongxiao called into action numerous times as the Black Sticks continued to attack. The Kiwi’s best opportunities included a reverse stick shot on goal from Kayla Sharland from a penalty corner breakdown and a clear shot on goal from Anita Punt.
The second half was the better for New Zealand, creating more opportunities and putting increased pressure on the Chinese defence. China’s second goal of the game came with ten minutes left to go after a penalty corner miss-trap ended in Huang Ting slotting it home.
New Zealand played with real urgency as the clock ticked down with 19-year-old Sophie Cocks almost getting one back when she tried to squeeze it passed Dongxiao during a goalmouth scramble, and Gemma Flynn also creating opportunities.
The stand out players were Anita Punt and captain Kayla Sharland.
New Zealand now face Argentina at 1pm tomorrow (NZ time) before taking on Australia in their final pool game at 10.30am on Wednesday. All games are LIVE on Sky Sport. In Pool A, England beat Korea 6-2, Netherlands beat Germany 6-0. Hosts Argentina were still to play Australia in Pool B, in front of a sell-out home crowd.
Full time: 0-2 to China
Half time: 0-1 to China
China goal scorers: Cui Qiuxia (6th), Huang Ting (61st)