The Qantas Matildas have begun their two match tour against China with a narrow 2-1 loss in Shanghai (China) tonight.
The match started off very tight with both sides creating early chances but unable to find the back of the net. It took a while for the Qantas Matildas to settle in against a similar Chinese team to the one they hosted in Australia late last year.
The deadlock was broken in the 28th minute when a defensive error resulted in Australia conceding an own goal which gave China a 1-0 lead. The Qantas Matildas collected themselves after this lapse in concentration and created a number of opportunities as the match headed to half time, although China did have the bulk of possession throughout the half and defended their lead well.
The second half saw the Qantas Matildas equalise three minutes in when Jo Peters put her cross from the left in behind the Chinese Defence and Sarah Walsh was on hand to neatly finish past an advancing Chinese goalkeeper. The remainder of the second half was punctuated by a very high foul rate which did not allow the match to flow or reach any great heights.
China took the lead again with a successful penalty in the 75th minute following a controversial foul by Australia in the penalty box. The Qantas Matildas fought hard for an equaliser but unfortunately was not forthcoming, with China holding on to record a narrow victory in the first of the two-match series.
After the match, Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermani was pleased with his teams performance despite the loss.
"In the first 30 minutes we were out played, but ironically within that period we had our best chance.
"Once we settled down we played some good football and then we did create opportunities but couldn't capitalise.
"In the second half it was quite difficult for the players to keep their composure due to the high number of fouls that were being called, but that was also a good learning exercise for the team.
"I'm please we were competitive for the full 90 which means our physical preparation in on track and considering the Chinese national team has been in full time camp for the past 3 months there are alot of positives that I can take out of this match," concluded Sermani.
The Qantas Matildas will play one more fixture against China in Shanghai on Monday 19 June before returning home and preparing for the AFC Women's Asian Cup which kicks off in Adelaide on 16 July.
It will be the first time Australia have hosted an Asian tournament since joining the AFC on January 1 this year, with the tournament doubling as qualifiers for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup.