Relief for Jose Antonio Camacho as China edge past Iraq in Asian Cup qualifier

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 4:41am

Jose Antonio Camacho was left breathing a huge sigh of relief as Yu Dabao's goal three minutes into injury time secured China a narrow 1-0 victory over 10-man Iraq to kick-start the country's attempt to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup.

The Spaniard, under pressure since failing to take his time through to the final phase of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and a defeat by Saudi Arabia in the qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup last month, praised his players' never-say-die attitude in horrendous conditions in the second half.

"Today we won this together," said the former Real Madrid coach. "We had great fans, and we fought till the last second. It was great.

"It was such a difficult game, with such pouring rain. The best part was our players' never-give-up spirit. We deserved the win.

"We knew the way Iraq play their game, including their set-piece strategies. They have some very talented players, so we had to be patient and create chances for goals."

Iraq were reduced to 10 men in first-half injury time amid bizarre scenes that saw a free kick retaken on two occasions and Ali Adnan Kadhim booked for encroachment, the midfielder's second one having earlier been cautioned for a foul on Sun Ke.

The game looked to be heading for a stalemate when, with 93 minutes on the clock, Zhang Linpeng bundled Chen Tao's corner into Yu's path and the Dalian Aerbin striker turned to slide the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.

Victory moves China on to three points from their opening two games, level with the Iraqis in group C.

The top two teams from the group are guaranteed to progress to the finals in Australia in January 2015.