Soccer-China down Japan in shootout to set up South Korea final
(Reuters) -China knocked out two-time defending champions Japan 4-3 in a penalty shootout on Thursday to set up a final showdown with South Korea in the Women's Asian Cup.
Wang Shanshan scored the winning spotkick after firing in a late equaliser in extra-time to earn Shui Qingxia's side a 2-2 draw with the champions and take the game in Pune into a shootout.
South Korea advanced to the final of the tournament for the first time after handing the Philippines a 2-0 defeat.
China, who claimed the title eight times between 1986 and 2006, will play in the final for the first time since 2008 after twice coming back from a goal down on Thursday.
Riko Ueki finished off a fine team move when she deftly headed in Hinata Miyazawa's cross to put the Japanese in front in the 26th minute.
Wu Chengshu's close range volley in the first minute of the second half levelled the scores and, although the Japanese created opportunities to seal the win, Futoshi Ikeda's side were forced into extra-time.
Ueki was on target again two minutes before the end of the first period when she evaded China's attempts to play offside to meet Yui Hasegawa's free kick with a clinical diving header.
But the Chinese equalised again with little over a minute remaining when Wang Shanshan steered Zhang Xin's cross from the left past Ayaka Yamashita to take the game to penalties.
Misses by Saki Kumagai and Zhang Xin in the first round of spotkicks were followed by a reflex save from Zhu Yu to keep out Moeka Minami's effort in the fifth round, leaving Wang to hit the winner.
In the day's other semi-final, South Korea qualified for the decider when goals from Cho So-hyun and Son Hwa-yeon saw off the Philippines.
Cho put her side ahead in the fourth minute when she headed home Kim Hye-ri's corner while Choo Hyo-joo's run down the left opened up the Philippines defence 30 minutes later and her low centre was steered in by Son for Korea's second.
The Asian Cup has doubled up as the continent's qualifier for next year's World Cup, with the four semi-finalists advancing to the tournament alongside co-hosts Australia and New Zealand.
A fifth Asian nation will qualify via a repechage that features Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, with the second and third-placed finishers progressing into a series of international playoffs for further World Cup berths.
(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
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