Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - Page 20 News List

China top 10-man Kuwait with a strong second half

Reuters, DOHA

Second-half goals from defender Zhang Linpeng and midfielder Deng Zhuoxiang gave China the perfect start to their Asian Cup campaign as they beat highly-rated Kuwait 2-0 at the Al Gharafa Stadium on Saturday.

The more experienced Kuwait, who won both the West Asian Championship and the Gulf Cup last year, started as the stronger side against a youthful but more muscular China, but the dismissal of defender Mesad Nada after 36 minutes left them exposed at the back and changed the balance of the match.

However, they were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty after 12 minutes when China skipper Du Wei hacked down striker Bader Al Mutwa in the box and these were also denied a goal when the ball appeared to cross the goal-line just after halftime, but the Australian officials waved play on.

China scored their opening goal in the 58th minute after weathering a period of Kuwait pressure.

Linpeng’s sweetly struck shot with the outside of his left boot from the edge of the box took a deflection off a defender leaving Yaqoub al Taher stranded in goal.

Zhuoxiang doubled the lead with a well-struck in-swigning free-kick nine minutes later.

“I was pleased with my team’s performance, but we struggled after we went down to 10 men,” Kuwait’s Serbian coach Goran Tufegdzic told reporters. “I couldn’t see if the ball had crossed the line, but the players were convinced it did.”

It turned China’s way after Nada was shown an immediate red card by Australian referee Ben Williams after sticking a foot into the groin of China striker Yang Xu as both fell to the ground by the touchline.

Xu was carried off on the electronic cart, while Nada, after writhing on the ground for a while, walked off disconsolately holding his head in his hands.

The result meant that China joined Uzbekistan at the top of Group A after the Central Asians beat hosts Qatar by the same score in Friday’s opening match.

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