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MD4 - Group A: Philippines 0-0 China PR

Bacolod City: The Philippines held China PR to a 0-0 draw in Group A of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Tuesday. 

The two sides had met twice this year, with China claiming wins on both occasions, and they were looking to maintain that streak against the Philippines as they applied early pressure that saw Hao Junmin and Wu Lei threatening in the opening 10 minutes.

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Hosts of the Continental showpiece in four years time, China continued to keep their presence on the Filipino half with Zu Chengie and Ai Kesen testing Neil Etheridge before the half-hour mark, but the Cardiff City custodian stood tall against their challenges to keep the game in a stalemate.

Despite Goran Milojevic being forced to make an early substitution when Carli De Murga suffered an injury with Luke Woodland coming on in the 30th minute, the Philippines began to threaten with their counter-attacking runs, but Daisuke Sato and Mark Hartman failed to keep their shots on target.

The Philippines, who had a rough start to their qualifying campaign with a 5-2 loss to Syria on Matchday One before bouncing back to beat Guam 3-1, came out in the second half with the intent to impress their home crowd at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium.

China, meanwhile, who had claimed back-to-back wins against Maldives and Guam with 12 unanswered goals were hoping to extend their winning streak but even with the lion's share on possession, they failed to beat Etheridge, who was assisted with a disciplined backline that kept the Chinese at bay.

Yang Xu and Wu Lei came close to breaking the deadlock in the 75th and 79th minutes respectively, but fluffed their close-range strikes.

Hao should have scored from inside the box a minute into added time when substitute Xie Pengfei's grounded cross found the Chinese skipper, but Etheridge pulled off his best save of the night to ensure the Philippines secured a point.

Although Marcello Lippi's China failed to take the three points, they stretched their unbeaten campaign and will hope to do better against Syria on November 14, while the Philippines travel to Male to face Maldives.

Photos: Philippines Football Federation

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