China have taken out third place at the 2017 China Cup after beating Croatia at the Guangxi sports centre in Nanning, China.
China won the match 4-3 on penalties after the match was level at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
A young Croatia side, made up of local league players, started the match the stronger of the two sides and could have taken the lead in the 9th minute but Hajduk Split’s Fran Tudor could only head wide.
China, coached by Italian legend Marcello Lippi, then created their first chance of the match after 15 minutes but Yin Hongbo failed to make the most of the space he found himself in.
Croatia were the better side in the first half and in the 36th minute good combination play from Tudor and NK Lokomotiva midfielder Luka Ivanušec led to the opening goal for Croatia.
Ivanušec broke down the middle of the park, fed Tudor on the right who then squared the ball back to Ivanušec who slotted the ball past the Chinese keeper.
Croatia should have gone 2-0 up 12 minutes into the second half when Tudor was put through on goal. With only the keeper to beat Tudor dragged his shot wide. Barišić then went close five minutes later but Wenyi in China’s goal was up to the task.
Croatia, who were in control of the match, went close again in the 68th minute when Perošović shot wide after some good build up play from substitute Šitum. Šitum then had the chance of the half in the 80th minute but shot wide from in front of goal.
With three minutes remaining in normal time China managed to find an equaliser against the run of play when Wang Jingbin beat his marker at the near post to head past Prskalo in the Croatia goal.
For the second match in a row at the tournament Croatia would have to go to penalties and again Croatia would end up on the wrong side of the ledger with misses to Perošović and Mišić.
Chile will play Iceland in the final of the 2017 China Cup on Sunday.
CROATIA 1-1 (3-4) CHINA
2017 China Cup
Guangxi Sports Centre, Nanning, China
GOALS: Ivanušec ’36, Wang Jingbin ’87
CROATIA: Prskalo – Juranović, Datković, Filipović, Pivarić – Mišić, Antolić (Perošović)- Tudor (Šitum), Ivanušec (Matas), Ozobić – Marić (Andrijašević)
CHINA: Wenyi – Jiajun, Shanping, Zhunyi, Xiaodong – Huikang, Zhongguo – Jiakang, Yunding, Zhongliu – Rentian