Tokyo Olympics: Black Sticks women sneak into quarter-finals despite falling to China in third straight defeat

The Black Sticks women have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympics' hockey tournament, despite a 3-2 defeat to China in their final pool match.

Less than a day after the Black Sticks men exited the tournament, the Black Sticks women scraped through by the barest of margins, with their goal difference of -1 superior to China's -7, sending New Zealand into the quarter-finals as the fourth seed from group B.

New Zealand won't know their opponents until the end of pool play, one of either Netherlands or Germany.

The Black Sticks women were lucky to avoid falling behind twice in the first quarter, as China had not one, but two goals ruled out.

The first, coming after a shot from Ying Zhang ended up in the top right of the goal following a penalty corner and yellow card to Frances Davies, was disallowed after the ball was judged to have not left the circle after a Kiwi referral.

The second, coming after Xiaoxue Zhang beat New Zealand goalkeeper Grace O'Hanlon only to be judged to have used the back of her stick, and ruled out by the umpire.

But into the second quarter, where the Black Sticks opened the scoring through Ella Gunson, who tapped home after Kelsey Smith tapped the ball towards the goal from a penalty corner.

China equalised before halftime though, as Meng Liu swept home a shot from close range that beat O'Hanlon from a penalty corner, and sending both teams into halftime at 1-1.

After the break, China took the lead as Yi Chen stabbed a shot home from a penalty corner, as the Black Sticks went behind for the first time.

It was then Black Sticks' turn to equalise, through Rose Keddell, who was on hand to fire a shot home after a fantastic run into China's area by Kelsey Smith.

In the final quarter though, China scored what would prove to be the winner, as Liang Meyu beat O'Hanlon to condemn the Black Sticks women to a third straight defeat.

The Black Sticks women will meet one of Netherlands or Germany in the quarter-final, however New Zealand will need a marked improvement on their recent results, with defeats to Spain and Australia after opening their tournament with back-to-back victories over Argentina and Japan.