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Hosts China held on night of draws

india Updated: Aug 07, 2008 23:39 IST
Brian Homewood
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Hosts China needed a late equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw with rank outsiders New Zealand in the Olympic soccer tournament on Thursday.

Former gold medallists and fellow Africans Nigeria and Cameroon were also involved in stalemates against the Netherlands and South Korea respectively.

Nigeria drew 0-0 with the Netherlands in Group B and Cameroon were held 1-1 by South Korea in Group D.

Despite having Steven Old sent off for a second bookable offence in the 39th minute, New Zealand stunned a packed crowd at the Shenyang Olympic stadium when Jeremy Brockie scored eight minutes after the restart of their Group C game.

China, keen to avoid more embarrassment after recently being knocked out of the World Cup qualifiers, salvaged a point when substitute Dong Fangzhuo headed in at the near post with two minutes to play.

Georges Mandjeck scored in the 81st minute to give Cameroon, winners in Sydney in 2000, a point after Park Chu Young's goal had put South Korea ahead in the 68th minute in Group D.

Earlier, Italy and the United States made winning starts to their campaigns while Australia and Serbia drew 1-1.

A superb left-foot volley from the edge of the area by Sebastian Giovinco gave Italy the lead in the 41st minute of their Group D match against Honduras. Just four minutes later they doubled their advantage through a Giuseppe Rossi penalty.

The "Azzurrini" put the game well beyond the reach of the Hondurans when Robert Acquafresca was brought down by keeper Kevin Hernandez and rose to convert the penalty and make it 3-0.

In Group B, the United States were in charge for much of their game against Japan but it was only a strike from Stuart Holden, two minutes after the break, that secured them a winning start. They had to endure some late pressure.

Marshell Wynne powered down the right flank and put in a low cross which Holden struck straight at Shusaku Nishikawa but the Japan keeper poorly let the ball under his body.

Ruben Zadkovich put Australia ahead against Serbia in the 69th minute but the lead lasted just nine minutes before Slobodan Rajkovic's equaliser.

(Additional reporting by Simon Evans in Beijing)