In a highly anticipated international friendly match played on the 26th of March 2023, New Zealand managed to secure a hard-fought 2-1 win against China at the Sky Stadium in Wellington.
The All Whites had struggled to find the back of the net since their 5-0 victory over Solomon Islands at the World Cup qualifiers last year. However, they finally broke the drought in the 43rd minute of the game when Marco Rojas‘ set piece found the head of Chinese defender Zhu Chenjie, who unfortunately ended up scoring an own goal.
Even before the goal Eli Just got a penalty for New Zealand, which was poorly taken by Alex Greive and saved by goalkeeper Yan Junling. Thed deadlock would be only broken minutes later thanks to an own goal, but somehow a New Zealander would manage to score in this game: in the second half, the NAC Breda’s Matthew Garbett came off the bench to score a fantastic goal for the All Whites, finishing off a brilliant assist from Joe Bell in the 81st minute.
Despite China’s efforts to mount a comeback, they were only able to reduce the deficit to 2-1 when Ba Dun scored a header in the 92nd minute of the game, too late for the Chinese to salvage a draw. It was disappointing for China, who had high hopes for the game after getting a draw against the All Whites in their previous friendly last week.
The All Whites were once again without their star and captain Chris Wood, who was sidelined with injury and had returned to England before the game. Despite his absence, the team showed great character and resilience to secure the win.
The victory will give New Zealand a much-needed confidence boost ahead of their upcoming fixtures, and they will be hoping to build on this momentum as they continue their preparations for the next World Cup qualifiers.