Asian Cup: Defending champions Australia off the mark, wins for South Korea and China

After a surprise defeat in their opening match, defending Asian Cup champions Australian are off the mark. A dominant display saw the Aussies run out comfortable 3-0 winners over Palestine.

Australia 3-0 Palestine
(Maclaren 18, Mabil 20, Giannou 90) 

Two goals in two minutes put tournament heavyweights Australia within touching distance of the last 16, with the 2015 champions now likely to need just a point from their final group game against Syria.

After a disappointing 1-0 loss to Jordan in their first match, coach Graham Arnold dropped two of his main creators, Massimo Luongo and Robbie Kruse, in favour of Jackson Irvine and Chris Ikonomidis, who impressed as substitutes against Jordan.

Arnold's side looked much more dynamic from the off on Friday and a first international goal from Jamie Maclaren got the Socceroos underway. The Hibernian striker flicked in from a Tom Rogic cross in the 20th minute to settle any nerves.

Awer Mabil made it two shortly afterwards, sweeping in a back post volley from Ikonomidis' pass to give Australia a deserved cushion that they never looked likely to relinquish.

Mabil could have doubled his tally before the break but he blazed his shot over after a neat move through the middle involving captain Mark Milligan and Maclaren.

More chances were to come for the men in gold but none were taken until the last minute of normal time, when substitute Apostolos Giannou, a last minute call up to the squad, nodded home the third.

Jordan play Palestine and Australia play Syria on Tuesday in the final round of group fixtures.

Philippines 0-3 China
(Wu Lei 40', 66', Yu Dabao 80')

Marcelo Lippi saw off his old adversary Sven-Goran Eriksson as China disposed of the Philippines in Abu Dhabi to ensure their place in the last 16.

Wu Lei was the star for China, scoring twice on a chastening night for the Philippines, who are yet to score a goal in the tournament. He fired the first of his brace for China five minutes before half-time, turning on the edge of the box and whipping a right-foot shot into the far corner.

His second was even better as he swivelled to slam a Hao Junmin free-kick past Philippines goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard on the volley after 66 minutes to effectively end the match.

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Substitute Yu Dabao added a third with his first touch 10 minutes from time for China, who are hoping to improve on their quarter-final finish in Australia four years ago.

"If we can continue to play like that we have nothing to fear from any team at this Asian Cup," said Lippi, who led Italy to the 2006 World Cup and sparred with Eriksson in his Serie A days. 

Kyrgyzstan 0-1 South Korea
(Kim Min-jae 41')

South Korea secured their place in the last 16 after continuing their perfect start, squeezing past Kyrgyzstan 1-0 thanks to a Min-jae Kim header just before half-time.

South Korea were made to sweat once again by minor opposition following their opening single-goal win over the Philippines.

But they will be glad to be safely through without the services of Tottenham Hotspur star Heung-min Son, who sat out the first two games under a deal with the Premier League club.

Kyrgyzstan caused some anxious moments for South Korea in the first half, especially from corners with Bekzhan Sagynbaev having one effort saved at point-blank range. But four minutes before the break, defender Min-jae rose high at a corner and glanced the ball in. 

mp/pfd (AP, AFP)

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DW News | 09.01.2019

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