China pounds Guam in front of 30,000 in World Cup qualifier
Wu Lei and Brazilian-born Alan Carvalho both scored twice as China demolished Guam 7-0 in a World Cup qualifier in front of a sell-out home crowd of 30,000 on Sunday.
The handsome victory over the US island territory saw China close the gap on group leaders Syria to five points with three games left, but only the top team is guaranteed to reach the next stage of qualifying for Qatar 2022.
In Li Tie’s first match since being permanently named China coach in January last year, Espanyol’s Wu opened the scoring with a 20th-minute penalty in Suzhou after being chopped down in the box.
Jin Jingdao scored the second six minutes before half-time, then 29-year-old Wu crashed in the best goal of the night on 55 minutes.
Wu, who struggled for game time this season as Espanyol won promotion back to Spain’s top tier, was subbed off with just under 30 minutes left.
Former Everton midfielder Li fielded three naturalized players in Brazilian-born attacking duo Elkeson and Carvalho, as well as former England youth defender Tyias Browning.
Elkeson scored the fifth and Carvalho came on as a sub for his debut before scoring a quickfire double against Asian football’s smallest member nation.
China has ambitions to host and even win a World Cup one day, but they are ranked 77th in the FIFA rankings and have begun naturalizing players in recent years to boost their 2022 chances.
All remaining Group A matches for all five teams will take place in a secure “bubble” in Suzhou as part of measures to thwart the coronavirus.
China faces the Maldives on Thursday, followed by more difficult games against the Philippines and Syria.
China’s most likely route to the next stage of qualifying for Qatar is as one of the best second-placed teams in the Asian groups.
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