China advance to Asian Cup last 16, Australia rebound

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Australia’s defender Trent Sainsbury , right, and Palestine’s defender Day Dabbagh go for the ball during their AFC Asian Cup group B soccer match at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Jan. 11. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP) — China and South Korea made it to the knockout round of the Asian Cup on Friday, while defending champions Australia stayed alive by rebounding from a stunning opening defeat.

China secured a spot in the round of 16 with a comfortable 3-0 win over the Philippines in Group C, while South Korea advanced in the same group by defeating Kyrgyzstan 1-0.

Australia put their 1-0 opening loss to Jordan in the past by routing Palestine 3-0 in Group B.

China star forward Wu Lei scored two superb goals — a curling right-footed shot into the top corner in the first half and a volley in the second — against a Philippines squad making its Asian Cup debut.

Yu Dabao added the third with a header a few seconds after entering the match late.
China had opened with a hard-fought 2-1 win against Kyrgyzstan.

Paulo Bento’s South Korea picked up their second straight win with a 41st-minute header by defender Kim Min-jae.

China and South Korea have six points, while Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines have zero but have slim chances of advancing. China and South Korea will fight for the group win on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.

The top two teams in each group and the four best third-place teams advance to the round of 16.

For Australia, Jamie Maclaren and Awer Mabil scored two minutes apart in the first half and substitute Apostolos Giannou added another in the second at Rashid Stadium.

Jordan, who have already advanced to the next round as the group winners, have six points, three more than the Socceroos. Syria and Palestine have a point each from their opening draw and still have a chance of reaching the next stage.

Australia will try to secure a spot in the last 16 on Tuesday when they face Syria. Palestine play Jordan at the same time.

“We’re just getting started, it’s exciting times ahead,” said Chris Ikonomidis, one of the three changes to the starting lineup made by Australia coach Graham Arnold. “It’s a new era under Arnie and we’re really finding our feet now.”