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Despite the 2-0 win of the first Olympic qualifier against China last Friday, the Belgium women’s hockey team unfortunately failed to win their ticket for Tokyo 2020. They went under in the shoot-outs, after giving up their 0-2 lead in the final minutes of the second game.
However, up till 5 minutes from the end, the Belgians had properly controlled this decisive game. After a first quarter that was clearly in favor of China, but in which the Belgian defense had held up well, the Panthers had gradually succeeded in re-imposing their game and thus restoring the balance in the second and third quarters .
But unfortunately, with just 5 minutes on the clock, the Japanese referee awarded a penalty to China for an alleged “kick” from Vanden Borre, who even seemed very questionable when watching the video. The Chinese thanked for the gift and took the lead in this competition (1-0).
The Belgian defence came under heavy pressure and began to give way, because the Chinese goalkeeper had been picked up, in favor of an extra fielder.
A cross by a Chinese attacker, who was left alone on the right side of the Belgian circle, was touched by the unfortunate Alix Gerniers and disappeared into the Belgian goal. What everyone had feared became reality. China led 2-0 and restored the balance between the two games: it was 2-2.
In this difficult exercise, it would be the two keepers who were the best. In the first series of 5 shoot-outs, they managed to defuse 4 each.
The young Ambre Ballenghien was the only one who managed to score for Belgium. But in the ‘sudden death’ series that followed, the Chinese scored their first shoot-out, while the Belgians aimed theirs at the goal. It was over for Belgium. China forced its ticket for Tokyo 2020 to the extreme.