March 23 (Reuters) – New Zealand held on to secure a 0-0 draw with China in a friendly in Auckland on Thursday after defender Tommy Smith was sent off in the second half.
Smith, earning his 50th cap, was red carded after a mix-up with goalkeeper Oli Sail saw him bring down Chinese striker Wu Lei in the 63rd minute.
New Zealand dominated the opening 45 minutes but it was the Chinese, playing their first game under new coach Aleksandar Jankovic, who went closest to scoring.
Winger Wei Shihao sent a 32nd minute free kick just wide before forcing a fine save out of Sail two minutes before the break.
China grew in confidence after the interval and Wu Lei should have put his side ahead three minutes into the second half when he was released by Wu Xi’s through ball but the forward curled his shot high and wide.
It marked a sixth consecutive match without a goal for New Zealand, who last found the net when they put five past the Solomon Islands in March last year.
New Zealand host China in another friendly in Wellington on Sunday.
Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Peter Rutherford
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