China reached the finals of the 2015 Asian Cup soccer competition as the best third-placed team, despite a 3-1 defeat to Iraq in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday night.
They finished third in group C with eight points, the same number as group B’s Lebanon, who won 5-2 in Thailand but whose goal difference overall was minus two, as against China’s minus one.
Hong Kong’s hopes of qualifying for the finals in Australia, meanwhile, came to end as they were beaten 3-1 by Vietnam in their last match in group E.
They needed a victory in Hanoi – and for results in four other groups to go their way, to finish as the best third-placed team.
Despite battling throughout the 90 minutes, they found Vietnam were too difficult to handle.
Lo Kwan-yee scored the only goal for the visitors in the 80th minute, when they were two goals down. Lo’s goal boosted the team for a short period but Vietnam replied quickly with their third.
Hong Kong goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai saved a penalty kick in the closing stages to avoid a bigger defeat.
Hong Kong finished with four points in the group, just ahead of Vietnam, who collected their only three points last night.