China, Spain played to a draw to finish group play. This is why it was a win for China.

It was a little bit of a strange sight to see Jia Xiuquan celebrating like it was a victory after China settled for a 0-0 draw with Spain in the final match of group play at the Women’s World Cup. China had played a mostly unexcited style against Spain to clinch its spot in the knockout stage, but the scoreless draw meant more than just a spot in the final 16 for Xiuquan and his team. China also dodges a likely matchup with the powerhouse United States in France, at least for now.

Seems like a pretty good reason to cry tears of joy.

The draw in Le Havre, France, gives China a third-place finish in Group B thank to its even goal differential. In all likelihood, the United States will win Group F, which slates it with a matchup against the runner-up from Group B. After the draw at Stade Oceane, Spain is the group’s runner-up set to likely face the United States next Monday. China will face the winner from Group C or Group D by virtue of its third-place finish. A tactical change paid off for China.

China controlled possession for only 37 percent of the match and attempted just one shot. Spain, even though a loss would have helped it avoid a meeting with the United States, attempted 24 shots and put nine on goal.

China managed to pull it off without missing the knockout round, either. China has only missed the World Cup once since it began, and in each of those appearances made it at least to the quarterfinals. By dodging the United States, China will have a chance to keep its streak going by beating another group winner to be determined.

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