Taiwan last night scored on either side of halftime to beat Timor-Leste 2-1 and advanced to the next round of AFC Asian Cup qualification 4-2 on aggregate, sending players and fans in Kaohsiung into joyous celebration at the end of match.
It was a home game for Taiwan at the Kaohsiung National Stadium, and the hosts started quickly with midfield dynamo Chen Po-liang pushing into opposition goal area inside the first minute, when he was cut down for a foul.
In the ensuing free-kick, attacking midfielder Wen Chih-hao just missed, with his shot going wide of the goalpost.
Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times
Taiwan made good attacking efforts, and in the 10th minute they earned another free-kick from the left side.
The ball was deflected to striker Wu Chun-ching, who evaded two defenders and passed to captain Chen Yi-wei in the six-yard box, who slotted it home for the hosts to go ahead 1-0.
They came close to grabbing another goal 10 minutes later, with Wu again spearheading the offense, laying off a pass for Wen in front of the goal.
Timor-Leste goalkeeper Ramos Maxanches came out to deflect Wen’s first shot and blocked Wen’s second attempt on the rebound.
In the 22nd minute, the visitors had a good chance in the goal area, but Oligarlio Pereira blazed his volley wide of the mark.
Taiwan nearly doubled their lead in the 39th minute with a corner-kick to Chen Po-liang right in front of the goal, but his header hit the crossbar and bounded out.
With the outcome still in doubt, both sides continued with attacking play in the second half, with several missed chances by players in the open.
The hosts secured their second goal in the 75th minute, with Wen playing the provider in a marauding run into the 18-yard box, sending a cross for midfielder Chen Hao-wei to head into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Timor-Leste got a consolation goal by midfielder Jose Maria Oliveira in the 85th minute, but it was too little, too late, as the hosts advanced on a 4-2 aggregate through two matches.
With yesterday’s result, Taiwan join Bhutan in the next 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification round, which is to start in March next year.
Twelve top-seeded Asian nations have already qualified for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates, including Japan, South Korea, Iran, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Uzbekistan.
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