Asian Cup: China pins second loss on PH Azkals
ABU DHABI – China proved too classy for the Philippines as it came away with a 3-0 win last Friday night to reach the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium here.
A brace from Wu Lei and a close-range header from substitute Yu Dabao in the second half propelled the Dragons to their second straight victory in Group C, while sending the Azkals to their second loss in the tournament.
The defeat left the Azkals with a slim chance of making the next round in their first Asian Cup appearance.
They must win their final group match against Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday in Dubai and hope that results in the other group will go their way as they try to sneak into the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Kyrgyzstan was slated to play South Korea late Friday.
Unlike their creditable performance against Korea, who dealt them a 1-0 defeat last Monday, the Azkals struggled to settle into the match against a physical Chinese side.
Coach Sven Goran Eriksson made one change to the side with Manny Ott making way for Carlie De Murga, who was on the right of Alvaro Silva of a three-man backline. Stephan Schrock was moved to the left wing with Luke Woodland taking his right wingback spot.
Despite China’s early endeavor, the first real chance actually fell to the Azkals in the 22nd minute when Patrick Reichelt and Patrick Strauss combined to release Javier Patino on the left only for Feng Xiaoting to block the goalbound effort.
It was China’s turn to threaten in the 33rd minute with Wu Xi heading Hao Junmin’s cross just wide off Michael Falkesgaard’s goal.
China took the lead thanks to a moment of brilliance from Wu, the Shanghai SIPG star, who was marked by Azkals coach Sven Goran Eriksson as the Chinese’ danger man. Afforded time and space just outside the area, Wu looped the ball over Falkesgaard and into the top corner.
Just before halftime, Ingreso forced Yan Junling into a fingertip save from distance.
The second half started the same way as the first with the Dragons on the ascendancy. Six minutes after the restart, Falkesgaard was called into action by a well hit volley from Wu.
The Chinese striker finally got his second goal in the 66th minute as his volley off a free kick came flying past Falkesgaard.
Eriksson made his first substitution moments later with Phil Younghusband coming on for Carlie De Murga. That hardly changed the pattern for the Azkals as Wu almost got his hat trick in the 79th minute, forcing another superb stop from Falkesgaard.
The third goal came two minutes later when Yu Dabao headed home from close range after the Azkals failed to clear a corner.
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