Penalty heartache for Blind GB
by Matt Phillips
Paralympics GB 1-1 China (China won 2-1 on penalties)
Thursday 6 September
There was Paralympic penalty woe for the GB Blind Squad as they crashed to a 2-1 shootout defeat against China on Thursday.
It was a gallant effort from Tony Larkin's side after Dan English scored a late equaliser with just three minutes of normal time remaining.
The China captain, Li, had put the Beijing 2008 silver medallists in front with a 6m penalty earlier in the half.
The shootout saw GB talisman David Clarke send the opening penalty over the bar and into the crowd before Li again stepped up to convert for China. Dan English made it 1-1 in the best of three shootout despite a decent block from China's beanpole 'keeper, Lei Niu.
Zhoubin Wang beat Lewis Skyers with a low shot to make it 2-1 before Keryn Seal hit his penalty straight at Niu to send China into the fifth place play-off against Iran.
GB will be looking to avoid the wooden spoon in their seventh place play-off against Turkey on Saturday morning.
Like GB, China had been expected to contend the medals at London 2012 but a draw against France and a 1-0 defeat to Brazil had seen them relegated to the classification play-off phase.
China started brightly with their trademark ball dribbling style wowing the Riverbank Arena crowd while Tony Larkin elected to rest David Clarke, Robin Williams and Dan James following the defeat to Iran on Tuesday.
Yafeng Wang tested Skyers early while English forced a good save from Niu with a freekick on the edge of the penalty area.
It wasn't long before Clarke was introduced and he forced Niu to block a decent left foot shot on the 20 minute mark.
But a clumsy challenge from Clarke in the second half gifted China the lead. The GB skipper sent Zheng flying in the box and Li stepped up from 6m to send a high shot into the roof of the net.
GB had been goal shy in the group stage with just one goal from three games and they barely troubled Niu in the second half.
But with just three minutes remaining, Dan English bulldozed his was through the China defence and toe poked the ball past Niu to equalise for GB.
China could have won it in normal time but Skyers palmed away their 8m penalty attempt while English had to leave the field after a clash of heads with Will Norman sent blood rushing from his already broken nose.
The Sunderland man returned to score in the shootout but China's penalties proved to be too clinical.