31 October 2023 | in University World Cup Football
The women Chinese team of Beijing Normal University won the FISU World University of football on home ground and after the penalty shootout. That was a cruel end for the Paulista University from Brazil who would equally have deserved the win.
There were some paradoxes at the start of the women tournament’s final match in Jinjiang. The Beijing squad had scored the highest number of goals in the group stage, relying on a solid defensive strategy and extremely quick transitions. On the other side the Brazilians had a perfect clean sheet while showing a very technical and generous attacking football. So, everything was set for an interesting clash of styles.
However, after 53 seconds the Paulista captain Rafaela Soares made an uncharacteristic mistake that offered an easy goal to Mengyao Zou. This was the dream start and scenario for Beijing. The local team immediately deployed their compact defensive net and strong counterattacks. In the 5th minute, Paulista keeper Anna Barbosa brilliantly saved a powerful shot off the foot of Zhou.
In the 12th minute Zhou got lucky not to receive at least a yellow card for a nasty foul on Thalita Da Silva. The Paulistas were struggling to go through Beijing’s defensive shield but in the 21st minute a free kick from the same Da Silva ended on the post for their best opportunity so far. Minutes later Barbosa made another fantastic save on a beautiful shot from Shiyu Shao. The Brazilian earned a second opportunity to equalize in the 28th minute with a brilliant pass in the box from Joyce Amara but Thuany Siridakis squandered it. On the next action, Zhou took advantage of a miscommunication between the Brazilian defenders and their keeper to chip the ball in the empty net.
At that moment, to come back from two goals down against such a well organised team as Beijing Normal University seemed like having to climb Mount Everest for the Paulistas. But in addition to their excellent football skills they proved to also have a good sense of mountaineering.
In the 35th minute they set up what might remain as one of the finest goals of the women competition. Following a series of precise passes, Pereira found Ribeiro whose cross was spectacularly headed into the net by Amara.
The momentum brutally shifted and captain Soares made up for her initial blunder by sailing a ball to the net on a corner. In stoppage time the Beijing keeper Jingyan Mei won her one-on-one duel against Ribeiro and the Chinese squad was eventually lucky to reach the half time on a parity score.
Paulista University continued to dominate during most of the second half with a few opportunities to take the lead on headers by Pereira (48th minute) and Souza (58th minute) and an Amara’s rush in the box that was saved in extremis (67th minute). With the fatigue, the match levelled, and Beijing also had a couple of opportunities, including a match ball in stoppage time when Ting Wang missed her shot at close range.
During the extra time, no team was willing to take too many risks, and both seemed happy (or resigned) to rely on the penalty shootout. But penalty shootouts are like a lottery and it was the Chinese team who finally hit the jackpot.
Beijing Normal University (CHN)-Paulista University (BRA) 2-2 AET (2-2, 2-2) PEN 5-4
Zou (1’, 1-0), Zhou (30’, 2-0), Amara (35’, 2-1), Soares (43’, 2-2). Penalty shootout: Pereira 0-0, J. Liu 1-0, Soares 1-1, Zhou 2-1, Souza 2-2, Fang 3-2, Da Silva 3-3, Huang 4-3, Carvallho 4-4, Yu 4-4, Faria 4-4, Dai 5-4.
University of Bordeaux (FRA)-University of Sydney (AUS) 4-1 (0-0)