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Asian Qualifiers - Group A: China PR beat Philippines to keep dream alive

Sharjah: Second half goals from Wu Lei and Wu Xinghan saw China PR grind down a determined Philippines side to notch up a 2-0 win in Sharjah on Monday that strengthens the hold of Li Tie’s side on second place in Group A of the second round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Wu Lei struck from the penalty spot to break the deadlock in the 56th minute and Wu Xinghan doubled his side’s advantage nine minutes later as the Chinese moved on to 13 points from six games, six more than the Azkals, who remain in third.

A win over the Maldives on Friday will guarantee China PR finish in second place behind group winners Syria and will further strengthen their hopes of advancing to the third round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup as one of the best runners-up.

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The Chinese made a lively start, with Wu Lei pulling an early effort wide, but the Azkals were not to be overawed. Angel Guirado sent his 11th minute attempt off target while, in the 21st minute, Mark Hartmann looked set to put the Philippines in front.

Patrick Reichelt drove down the right wing before delivering a cross that Yan Junling struggled to deal with, palming the ball into Hartmann’s path. The Malaysia-based striker under-hit his instinctive shot, however, and Zhang Linpeng was able to clear just metres from the line.

That was the closest either side came in a tight opening half in which Wu Xi headed wide of the Azkals goal and Ai Kesen had the ball in the Philippines’ net, sliding his effort in from a tight angle in injury time only for the goal to be ruled out for an infringement.

China PR cranked up the pressure in the second half, with Tang Miao seeing his curling strike deflected clear by Jefferson Tabinas while Wu Lei’s attempt was kept out when it hit the back of Ai Kesen and bounced the wrong side of the post.

Ai Kesen made amends, however, when he slipped a well-weighted pass into Wu Lei’s path and the Espanyol striker was brought down by goalkeeper Bernd Schipmann. Referee Kim Hee-gon pointed to the spot and Wu Lei made no mistake to give the Chinese the lead in the 56th minute.

Nine minutes later, Li Tie’s side doubled their lead and sealed the points as Tang Miao raced down the right before crossing for Wu Xinghan to slip his shot in at the far post and enhance China PR’s qualification hopes.

Photos: IC Photo

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