Ginella Zerbo was the star of the show as reigning champions the Netherlands kick-started season two of the FIH Hockey Pro League in winning fashion, cruising to a 3-0 away victory over hosts China at the Wujin Hockey Stadium in Changzhou on Saturday (11 January).
Whilst the home favourites had their moments, the Netherlands were deserving winners of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 curtain-raiser, with 22-year-old Zerbo instrumental in giving the World and European champions the winning start demanded by head coach Alyson Annan.
Zerbo hit the opener just eight minutes into the contest, coolly firing into an unguarded goal on the backhand after China’s defence were caught napping in a first quarter totally dominated by the European giants.
China were much improved in the second quarter but found themselves two goals down within seconds of the start of the third period, with Laurien Leurink passing into an empty net after Xan de Waard superbly eliminated China goalkeeper Li Dongxiao with a perfect pass for her compatriot to score.
The Netherlands extended their advantage to 3-0 before the end of the third quarter, with Zerbo scoring her second of the match from close range after the impressive Li – who also saved a fourth quarter penalty stroke from 2018 FIH Player of the Year Eva de Goede – had made two fine penalty corner blocks before being eventually beaten for the third and final time.
Speaking after the match, Dutch ace Zerbo said: “It was our first match in a while, but we worked very hard for each other and I’m very happy with the three points.”
China captain Cui Quixia said: “We played a good team, but it is ‘part one’. Our defence was not very good so I hope next match we do much better.”
Complete information on the match can be found on the live reporting page by clicking here.
The two teams will meet for a second time on Sunday (12 January), with the match starting at 1400 local time (GMT/UTC +8). To see the complete match schedule, click here.
The opening fixtures in Changzhou are the first of 144 matches that will be contested between January and June 2020, with the world’s finest men’s and women’s international teams fighting for the chance to win the respective titles.
FIH Hockey Pro League result – 11 January 2020
Wujin Hockey Stadium, Changzhou (CHN)
Result: Women’s Match 1
China 0, Netherlands 3 (Match 1 of 2)
Player of the Match: Ginella Zerbo (NED)
Umpires: Kang Hyun Young (KOR), Junko Wagatsuma (JPN) and Amber Church (NZL – video)
Match Day 2 – Sunday 12 January 2020
Changzhou (CHN) – Women: China v Netherlands (Match 2 of 2)
Time: 1400 (GMT/UTC +8)
Match Day 3 – Saturday 18 January 2020
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Men: India v Netherlands (Match 1 of 2)
Time: 1900 (GMT/UTC +5.30)
Match Day 4 – Sunday 19 January 2020
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Men: India v Netherlands (Match 2 of 2)
Time: 1700 (GMT/UTC +5.30)