China thank Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper blunders for comeback win at Asian Cup in UAE

  • Own goal from keeper Pavel Matiash draws China level after Asian Cup new boys had taken deserved lead
  • Keeper and defence at fault for Yu Dabao winner
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 9:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 10:56pm

China came from behind to beat debutants Kyrgyzstan in the AFC Asian Cup in their group C opener in Sheikh Kalifa International Stadium in Al Ain.

The new boys had taken a deserved lead after Akhlidin Israilov volleyed home from the edge of the box from a Mirlan Mirzaev knockdown just before half-time.

Kyrgyzstan then had the chance to double their lead before the interval but Vitaly Lux poked the just past the post to give China a chance to regroup.

China coach Marcello Lippi did just that, bringing on Hao Junmin at half-time having already brought on Yu Dabao after just 24 minutes of the encounter.

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Lippi’s side were thankful for a goalkeeping error from Kyrgyzstan’s Pavel Matiash when he punched a defensive header from a corner into his own net after 50 minutes.

The goalkeeper was seemingly under little pressure as he jumped to deal with a header looping under the crossbar but in attempt to palm it over the goal he pushed it into the net.

China had several chances to take the lead, notably from a Wu Lei header, but the Chinese Super League top scorer could not keep his effort down.

It would not matter in the end.

China took the lead thanks to another defensive mix-up from the debutants, who had switched from three central defenders to two.

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A ball over the top was not dealt with and substitute Yu Dabao slipped in to round the hapless Matiash and slot home from an acute angle.

That was enough to give China all three points and a harsh lesson in tournament football for the new boys.

Lippi won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, an achievement that was mentioned by Kyrgyz coach Aleksandr Krestinin.

“China has a very experienced coach who is a world champion, but he was not the world champion with China. We don’t remember China winning anything in recent years,” said the Russian in the lead up to the match.

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Lippi had said that he hoped China would be the “surprise of the tournament” in the UAE but he needed Matiash’s error to prevent the shock of an Asian Cup that has been packed with upsets in its first three days.

It is expected that this tournament will be his last for China and he will return to Europe.

The result will have come as a relief to Lippi and his side as they hope to go one better than the country’s runners-up finishes at the 1984 and 2004 editions of the tournament.

It also came against their recent run of form, which had seen them only win one of their last seven games in the build up to the continental competition.

China face the group’s other debutants the Philippines in their next game while South Korea are up next for Kyrgyzstan.

In this expanded edition, the four best third-placed teams make it through to the knockout stages.

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