China's soccer team looked promising to continue their dreams of 2018 World Cup after a 2-0 comfortable win over Qatar in a crucial Asian Zone Group C qualifier in Xi'an on Tuesday.
China's soccer team looked promising to continue their dreams of 2018 World Cup after a 2-0 comfortable win over Qatar in a crucial Asian Zone Group C qualifier in Xi'an on Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]
According to the rule of the qualifiers, group winners and top four second-placed teams will advance to the next phase. Thanks to Australia and the Philippines who beat Jordan and DPR Korea, China will move into the final stage as long as Iran don't lose to Oman by more than 6 goals or Saudi Arabia beat United Arab Emirates or Iraq don't beat Vietnam.
Only a victory could leave China the hope to make the final round of Asia's 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Compared to the match against Maldives 5 days ago, China's coach Gao Hongbo made several changes in starting line-up. The newly appointed captain Zhang Linpeng came off the bench, Zhang Xizhe and Huang Bowen were also given starting places.
The Chinese focused on attacking from the very beginning but could not seek real opportunity until Wu Lei' s shot from Zhang Xizhe's quick free-kick was blocked by Qatar's defenders in the 26th minute, While Qatar, who had booked a berth in the last 12 in advance relied on long shots to threat China's goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.
China played more aggressively after the interval and Gao Hongbo made the first change to strengthen the attack as he replaced Jiang Ning by Yu Dabao in the 53rd minute.
The hosts finally broke the deadlock after a string of strikes in the 58th minute when Li Xuepeng and Yu Dabao's attempts were denied by the goalkeeper Amine Lecomte and the frame before Zhao Mingjian collected the loose ball and tapped to Huang Bowen, the Guangzhou Evergrande's midfielder beat Amine with a low shot from the edge of the box.
Gao Hongbo continued to adjust the tactics as he substituted Zhang Xizhe and Huang Bowen with Yu Hai and Cai Huikang respectively.
Wu Lei doubled the lead as his powerful shot off Hao Junmin's through pass helped China seal the game in the 88th minute.