Wed, Jan 09, 2019 - Page 16 News List

China’s Lippi unhappy as they barely edge out Kyrgyzstan 2-1 in Cup opener

Reuters, AL AIN, United Arab Emirates

South Korea forward Lee Jae-sung, middle, heads the ball during their AFC Asian Cup match against the Philippines at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Monday.

Photo: AFP

China’s manager Marcello Lippi questioned the attitude of his team on Monday after they came from behind to scrape a 2-1 victory over Kyrgyzstan thanks to an own-goal and Yu Dabao’s late strike in their Asian Cup opener.

Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Pavel Matiash pushed the ball into his own net five minutes into the second half to cancel out Akhlidin Israilov’s first-half opener before Yu secured the points for China with a calm finish 12 minutes from time.

With South Korea winning 1-0 against a defiant Philippines, who like Kyrgyzstan are tournament debutants, with a goal by Hwang Ui-jo, the East Asian nations are the Group C pacesetters, but Lippi was not happy with China’s performance.

“I’ve been in China for two years now and it’s not the first time [we’ve been] in this situation,” Lippi said of his side’s disjointed display in the opening period.

Lippi’s side were outplayed in the first half by the Central Asian side and it came as little surprise when Israilov put Kyrgyzstan in front three minutes before the break with a volley from the edge of the penalty area.

However, Matiash’s horrendous mistake gifted China an equalizer when he palmed a seemingly harmless looping header from Zhang Linpeng into his own goal.

The goal lifted China and Beijing Guoan’s Yu slotted home late on to give Lippi’s team a winning start to the continental championship.

South Korea are attempting to win the title for the first time since 1960, although they were made to work for the three points by Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Philippines.

The Azkals defended resolutely, but could not stop Hwang’s 67th minute strike as the Gamba Osaka forward took one touch to control Hwang Hee-chan’s cut-back before smashing the ball into the roof of the net.

Later on Monday, Carlos Queiroz’s Iran thrashed Yemen, another tournament debutant, 5-0 in Group D.

Mehdi Taremi scored twice in the first half, either side of a free-kick from Ashkan Dejagah, as the three-time champions justified their status among the favorites.

Taremi gave Iran the lead with 12 minutes on the clock when he stole in to convert from close range after goalkeeper Saoud al-Sowadi spilled Sardar Azmoun’s long-range attempt.

Dejagah added the second 11 minutes later when his free-kick came back off the post and crossed the line via the back of al-Sowadi’s head and Taremi made it 3-0 in the 25th minute with a header.

Azmoun hit Iran’s fourth from close range nine minutes into the second half and Saman Ghoddos added the fifth from just outside the penalty area in the 78th minute.

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