China saved by goalie howler in narrow win over Kyrgyzstan
AL-AIN (United Arab Emirates), Janaury 7: A goalkeeping blunder helped Marcello Lippi’s China avoid a humiliating defeat as they came from behind to narrowly beat minnows Kyrgyzstan 2-1 at the Asian Cup on Monday.
The Central Asians, ranked 91st in the world and playing their first major tournament, bossed the first half and deservedly led 1-0 at the break of their Group C clash after Akhlidin Israilov’s rasping strike.
But panicky Kyrgyz goalkeeper Pavel Matiash committed the howler of the Asian Cup so far when he palmed the ball into his own net shortly after half-time, before Beijing Guoan forward Yu Dabao grabbed the winner 12 minutes before the end.
It spared China’s blushes against a team of players who ply their trade in leagues as diverse as Bangladesh and the Turkish amateur ranks, while both Matiash and Israilov are clubless.
Kyrgyzstan were far from overawed by their Asian Cup debut as they attacked from the outset at Al Ain’s sun-drenched Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium.
In an open first half, China’s Wu Lei had the first shot in anger but Vitaly Lux should have scored for Kyrgyzstan on 26 minutes when he fired well over after a brilliant touch from Mirlan Murzaev.
Wu Xi, set up by Wu Lei, flashed one wide three minutes later but Kyrgyzstan were causing serious problems at the other end, with 14 players packing the six-yard box for one corner. (AFP)
Lux couldn’t get on the end of Bekzhan Sagynbaev’s enticing header across the face of goal but it wasn’t long before Kyrgyzstan’s imaginative build-up play created the breakthrough.
Three minutes before half-time, Murzaev’s header fell perfectly for Israilov just outside the box and the out-of-contract midfielder smashed his shot in off the right post. (AFP)
South Korea edge Philippines 1-0
DUBAI, January 7: Prolific goal scorer Hwang Ui-jo snatched a second-half winner as South Korea beat Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Philippines 1-0 at the Asian Cup on Monday.
The Koreans, looking to end 59 years of hurt after failing to win the title since 1960, soaked up considerable pressure in their opening Group C fixture before Hwang broke the deadlock after 67 minutes in the United Arab Emirates.
The Japan-based striker swivelled and smashed home from close range in Dubai to settle his side’s nerves after Newcastle midfielder Ki Sung-yueng limped off with a suspected hamstring injury.
South Korea, who will be boosted by the arrival of Tottenham star Son Heung-min after their first two games, joined China on three points at the top of their group after Marcello Lippi’s side squeezed past Kyrgyzstan 2-1 earlier in the day in Al Ain. (AFP)