2019 Asian Cup: Azkals have no answer for China in 3-0 loss


Posted at Jan 11 2019 11:20 PM | Updated as of Jan 12 2019 10:48 AM

Patrick Reichelt (left) and John Patrick Strauss battle for possession against China in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday. The Philippines lost 3-0. Suhaib Salem, Reuters

(2ND UPDATE) The Philippines men's national football team lost to China 3-0 in the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

The win at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium guaranteed China's passage to the next round, while the Azkals' odds of advancing looked bleak after two successive goalless defeats.

The teams that finish 1-2 in each of the six groups, and the four third-placed squads with the most points march on to the knockout stage.

While China (6 points) paces Group C, the Philippines sits last with a minus-4 goal difference.

Korea qualified for the next phase after beating Kyrgyz Republic 1-0 in a late game.

"This is a high level we're playing against . . . Better teams, better quality. Playing three games in a couple of weeks is something we're gonna have to get used to if we want to beat these teams," said Azkals substitute James Younghusband.

Wu Lei proved to be the stuff of nightmares for Sven-Goran Eriksson's side, as the prolific striker immediately set himself apart from the field with his devastating form.

He put China ahead with a perfectly calculated shot from the right edge of the box five minutes before the break, then doubled his side's lead in the 66th with a right-footed shot that grazed keeper Michael Falkesgaard's fingers before hitting the back of the net.

Substitute Yu Dabao punctuated the result with an 80th-minute header.

Marcello Lippi emerged victorious against old foe Eriksson in a heavyweight coaching clash despite spirited early resistance from the Filipinos.

China, runners-up in 1984 and 2004, should have led after 32 minutes when Wu Xi headed wastefully wide from point-blank range.

But Wu Lei provided the spark, whipping a right-foot shot into the far corner. His second was even better as he swiveled to slam a Hao Junmin free kick past Falkesgaard on the volley.

Pulverized 8-1 the last time the teams met in 2017, the Philippines gave China more of a game this time, having lost 1-0 to South Korea on their Asian Cup debut earlier this week.

Kevin Ingreso forced a fingertip save from China goalkeeper Yan Junling in first-half stoppage time but Eriksson's side faded badly after the break. — With a report from Agence France-Presse

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