AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – China and South Korea reached the Asian Cup last 16 knockout round on Friday with wins over the Philippines and Kyrgyzstan, respectively, as defending champion Australia bounced back to claim its first win of the tournament.
Marcello Lippi’s China side negotiated a potentially tricky clash with the Azkals thanks to a pair of high-quality strikes from Wu Lei and a late header from Yu Dabao to seal a 3-0 win and guarantee a top two finish in Group C.
“The victory is, of course, very important, however the team’s performance is just as important,” said Lippi.
The Koreans, meanwhile, had defender Kim Min-jae to thank for their 1-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan which secures their place in the last 16 of the competition.
The Jeonbuk Motors center-half put Paulo Bento’s team in front four minutes before halftime when he headed Hong Chul’s corner through the legs of 21-year-old debutant goalkeeper Kutman Kadyrbekov.
Australia eased to a 3-0 win over Palestine having lost its opening game of the tournament in Group B to Jordan last weekend.
Jamie Maclaren put the Socceroos in front with a deft header off Tom Rogic’s lofted pass after 18 minutes and Awer Mabil doubled the advantage from close range two minutes later.