Zambia were denied their first win in the Olympic football event, Saturday, by a late penalty in a thrilling 8-goal thriller against China at the Miyagi Stadium.
Shuang Wang’s 83rd minute penalty earned China a point after Zambia’s 20 year-old midfielder Lushomo Mweemba was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
The late goal saw China level 4-4 and the sides battled in the final moments chasing a vital goal that could have tipped the balance.
Although the 1996 runners-up were reduced to 10 women afterwards; Li Qingtong brought down Barbara Banda who was through on goal, Zambia could not steal a win.
Banda scored a hat-trick, taking her tally to six in the competition, but she would share the spot light with China’s Shuang, who herself netted a first-half hat-trick and four goals on day.
With both sides looking to shake off the opening group F defeats, Zambia worse off, falling 10-2 to the Netherlands, it was China who took an early lead through Shuang (6′), but were pegged back by a fine strike from Racheal Kundananji.
However, China were back in front again, Shuang the goalscorer, although she had had an earlier goal ruled out by VAR.
The Asian side quickly raced to a 3-1 lead inside 23 minutes and were coasting home, but the lead was cut just before the break.
Banda breathe life into the contest with a 42nd minute strike to take her tournament tally to four goals.
After the restart, Zambia took the initiative and quick off the block scoring in minutes 46 and 69 to turn the game entirely on its head.
Bruce Mwape’s side were trying to run down the clock, and secure a famous victory, what would have been their first ever in the Olympic, but China weren’t letting up.
And China will have their moment when Referee Melissa Borjas consulted VAR and awarded a penalty against Mweemba for hand ball in the 83rd minute.
Replays had showed her hand was moving away from the ball before it was struck, but the Referee was convinced an infringement occurred.
But, there was more drama before full-time, when China lost a player for hacking down Banda after a sloppy defensive play sent the Striker through on goal.
The sides will however settle for a share of the spoils; Zambia remain bottom of the group and could miss out on a spot in the next round.
Shepolopolo next face Brazil, while China go up against Netherlands and a defeat for the African side will mean elimination although progress to the next round is slim.