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Asian Qualifiers - Group A: China PR turn on the power against Maldives to stay in contention

Sharjah: China PR confirmed themselves as runners-up in Group A with a 5-0 win over the Maldives in Sharjah on Friday as Li Tie’s side continue their push for one of the remaining slots in the final round of Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Liu Binbin and Wu Lei gave their team a two-goal half-time lead before A Lan, Zhang Yuning and Tan Long completed a comfortable night’s work for a Chinese squad attempting to keep the country’s hopes of FIFA World Cup qualification alive.

The win moves China PR onto 16 points from their seven games so far and their third victory in a row means they go into their final match against group winners Syria on Tuesday with significant momentum. The result also guarantees the Philippines finish third in the group.

The five runners-up with the best records will join seven of the eight group winners – FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar will not feature in the final round despite finishing on top of Group E - in the next phase.

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From the first whistle Chinese pushed for a significant win and they took a sixth minute lead when Liu Binbin fired high into the Maldives net. Wu Lei’s cross from the right evaded the defence to find the Shandong Taishan winger unmarked and with the time to smash the opener home.

Wu Lei almost had his side’s second when his header hit goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal’s left post while at the other end a rare sortie into the Chinese penalty area saw Ahmed Numaan shoot straight at Yan Junling.

Li Tie’s side notched up their second on the half hour mark with Wu Lei on target, the Espanyol striker latching on to Zhang Yuning’s ball through the Maldives defence before rounding the goalkeeper to score into an empty net.

China PR could have had a third in first half injury time, only for Yu Dabao’s header to be deflected wide of the target as the Maldives battled to keep the scoreline respectable at the interval.

A quick-fire double in the second half gave the Chinese further breathing space, with A Lan netting after Faisal had saved his initial 67th minute header while Zhang Yuning scored two minutes later with an expertly taken left-foot strike from outside the penalty area.

With a little over 10 minutes remaining Tan Long headed in his side’s fifth when he met Yin Hongbo’s pinpoint cross from the right to keep China PR perfect since their qualifying campaign resumed at the end of last month.

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