China 2 Philippines 0
January 11 – Two goals superbly taken goals from sparkling Chinese starlet Wu Lei were ultimately the difference between China, who have qualified for the round of 16 with a group game to go, and a battling Philippines who have yet to win a point or score a goal in their debut Asian Cup finals.
This was never going to pretty football match. Sven-Goran Ericksson ljned up with five across the back and a defensive four-man midfield that was prepared to hustle and bustle and bring their man down if he got too close to the final third. China responded in kind, unafraid to meet muscle with muscle.
The result was a fractured opening half with free kicks dominating the attacking action. The Chinese had the bulk of possession but long-range efforts from Hao Junmin and Zhao Xuri inside the first 10 minutes were easily mopped up.
The Philippine’s best chance came from a breakaway that saw Luke Woodland bring the ball from his own half to create a 3 vs 2 deep in to China’s half only to lose the opportunity by feeding left instead of right to the fast arriving Patrick Reichelt. It was a lot of effort for no end product.
It took a moment of brilliance from Wu Lei on 40 minutes to bring some quality to this encounter. Receiving the ball on the top right hand side of the box he turned and lifted it over the stranded Philippines defenders into the top left corner of the goal. A beautifully clean strike.
China were in the ascendancy. But it could all have gone badly wrong in the closing minute of the half if Yan Junling hadn’t reacted smartly to tip over the bar from a long range Kevin Ingreso effort.
The pattern for the second half was physically set and it was another moment of brilliance from Wu Lei to double the lead that broke the Philippines’ discipline. A free kick from the right by Hauo Junmin was volleyed on the half turn leaving Philippines goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard flailing.
On 78 minutes he missed his (and the tournament’s) first trick with an open goal opening up before him only to see the ball roll agonisingly away. From the resulting corner a flat footed Philippines defence allowed just arrived Yu Dabao to head in from two metres with his first touch of the ball.
The Philippines fought bravely but do face the ignominy of exiting the tournament with neither a goal or a point. The Kryzgstan game will be their cup final and the chance to salvage what would be some well-deserved honour.
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