‘That’s a penalty’: Controversial ending overshadows China’s dramatic victory over Haiti

An action packed Matchday Nine of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup wrapped up with an action packed clash between China and Haiti in Adelaide.

China are right in the hunt for a spot in the Round of 16, after edging their way past Haiti with a controversial 1-0 victory at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The Steel Roses went down to ten after Rui Zhang was sent off for a nasty challenge on Sherly Jeudy in the first-half, but fought their way through their numerical disadvantage to come away with the all-important three points.

However, the contest was marred by a combined four penalty shouts; two falling to either team in the final minutes of the contest.

Only one of the four were awarded, which was buried by Wang Shuang to give China the victory, which takes them level on points with second-placed Denmark in Group D.

However, the result could have been markedly different had Haiti been awarded one of either of their penalty shouts in second-half stoppage times, with one of them a challenge by China’s Jiaxing Duo on young gun Melchie Dumornay inside the box, being waved away by referee Marta Huerta and not crosschecked via a VAR review.

Haiti coach Nicolas Delepine was also visibly frustrated with the indecision and was booked, as a result.

Matildas and Western United midfielder Chloe Logarzo felt it was strange the VAR didn’t at least review Haiti’s second penalty shout, questioning “the point” of a review system if those moments aren’t being checked.

“What’s the point of having VAR If we’re not going to review every inside of the box opportunity to have a penalty or a free kick or something like that?” she said on Optus Sport.

“What is the point of having them? Because I think if you look closely at that, for me that’s a penalty.

“And that’s a game changing moment and that means that China wouldn’t be in the position that they’re in.

“For me, it’s devastating for Haiti, because it’s moments like this where you’re relying on the technology that they’re bringing into the game, to change the game in the moments that you need them to and it fails.”

The result leaves Haiti rooted to the bottom of the group without a point – while being on the end of consecutive 1-0 defeats as a result of a penalty – and will need to beat Denmark and get some help to progress to the knockout stages.

Chelsea assistant coach Tanya Oxtoby also felt Duo’s challenge was needless at that stage of the game, especially given where Dumornay was in the box at the time of the tackle.

“That was quite reckless,” Oxtoby said.

“You give the referee a decision to make and when there’s 30 seconds left in the game, I just don’t think you need to do that.

“She’s not going anywhere. Stay on your feet. Continue to force her away from goal.

“Don’t give the referee a decision to make.”

China took the lead against the run of play when Linyan Zhang managed to find her way into the box and was brought down by Haiti defender Ruthny Mathurin. Huerta initially pointed for offside in the build-up, but after VAR intervention, the decision was overturned.

Shuang stood up and buried the resulting penalty, giving China the lead in the 74th minute.

China could have very easily had a second spot-kick moments later, when Linyan Zhang was again brought down in the box, this time by Kethna Louis, but the VAR opted against awarding a second spot-kick.

“We watched this and I think we all thought it was a penalty, to be honest, or at least we weren’t sure whether it was inside the box or outside the box, but the referee’s not given it,” Oxtoby said on Optus Sport.

“I think she’s pushed her in the back. It’s not shoulder to shoulder, and I’m surprised that it didn’t go any further.”

Logarzo agreed with Oxtoby’s sentiments: “Shocked, honestly, you could see it was a massive push in the back.

Incredibly, Haiti had a stronger shout for a penalty earlier in second minute of second-half stoppage time, when China’s Chen Qiaozhu was all over Haiti’s Roseline Eloissaint as she tried to win a header inside her opposition box.

The penalty was initially given, but after VAR intervention, it was deemed that there was insufficient contact to award a penalty.

“This was also controversial,” Logarzo said.

“I think at the first glance I was 100% on board with a penalty as she had her arms wrapped around her neck.

“But it would have been a soft penalty, and I think at the end of the game, it would have been controversial.”

“This was AFL style!” host Niav Owens quipped back.

Former Denmark goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen also felt it would have been a harsh penalty, had the decision stood.

“I’m old school, I love my defenders going at it,” he said.

“She used her body and it was borderline, but I think it was just about right.”


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Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
REPORT: Comeback of the World Cup? Argentina overturn a two-goal deficit in thrilling draw

England 1-0 Denmark
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
REPORT: England close in on knockout stages with win over Denmark, but suffer enormous blow

China 1-0 Haiti
Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide
REPORT: China hold on for controversial victory over Haiti