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Saturday, January 12, 2019, 11:08
China, S. Korea enter round of 16, Australia rebound
By Xinhua
Saturday, January 12, 2019, 11:08 By Xinhua

Wu Lei (1st left) of China celebrates scoring his second goal during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 group C match between China and the Philippines in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jan 11, 2019. (DING XU / XINHUA)

ABU DHABI - China qualified for the knockout phase of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 on Friday as they crushed Philippines 3-0, while Australia earned three crucial points with a 3-0 win over Palestine in their Group B clash at Rashid Stadium.

Wu Lei scored the first two goals for China, followed by a late strike from substitute Yu Dabao.

The Philippines, following their second successive group stage defeat, now need a win in their final match against Kyrgyzstan to remain in contention for a place in the round of 16 as one of the best third-placed finishers.

ALSO READ: AFC Asian Cup: China edge Kyrgyzstan 2-1

Rarely given a moment to settle by their tenacious opponents, China initially struggled to fully impose themselves on the game. China went ahead on 40 minutes when Wu Lei received Hao Junmin's pass and finished with aplomb from 12 yards.

In the final moments of the first half, China custodian Yan Junling produced a fine save to deny Kevin Ingreso and maintain his side's advantage.

China were quickly into their stride after the break, as Wu Lei, the Shanghai SIPG star, bagged his second of the game with a consummate finish from Hao's 66th minute free-kick.

Yu Dabao (center) of China celebrates scoring during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 group C match between China and the Philippines in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jan 11, 2019. (CAO CAN / XINHUA)

Yu Dabao added a third and sealed the win in the 80th minute when he made the most of hesitant Philippines defending from a corner to head home just 19 seconds after coming on a substitute.

China are set to complete their group stage campaign against South Korea on Wednesday.

At the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, South Korea beat kyrgyzstan 1-0 in Group C to follow China into the round of 16.

South Korean defender Kim Min-jae scored four minutes before the half-time break to give Paulo Bento's side a second straight single-goal win at the tournament.

Kyrgyzstan coach Alexander Krestinin took the decision to drop goalkeeper Pavel Matiash after his costly error in the 2-1 loss to China and brought 21-year-old Kutman Kadyrbekov into the team for his debut competitive fixture.

The Koreans were on the front foot throughout the opening quarter of the game. kyrgyzstan did manage to threaten at the other end.

Head Coach Marcello Lippi of China reacts after winning the 2019 AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 group C match between China and the Philippines in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jan 11, 2019. (CAO CAN / XINHUA)

Bento's team kept pushing for the opener, and in the end, Kim's goal was enough to see off a spirited kyrgyzstan and take the two-time champions into the next phase of the competition.

Also on Friday, Australia got their title defense up and running, earning three points with a 3-0 win over Palestine in Group B at Rashid Stadium.

Sunday's defeat to Jordan seemed a distant memory when goals to Jamie Maclaren and Awer Mabil had the Socceroos 2-0 up within 20 minutes, before substitute Apostolos Giannou added a late third.

The result sees Australia leapfrog Palestine and Syria into second place in the group, with Noureddine Ould Ali's side dropping to fourth with one Matchday remaining.

READ MORE: Philippines announce squad for AFC Asian Cup in Jan

Australia's first AFC Asian Cup 2019 goal had been 108 minutes in the making, but they took just two more to add to their tally.

Australia's win is a significant boost to their hopes of knockout stage football, but they will still need to achieve a positive result against Syria in Al Ain on Tuesday to make sure of it - and will be without defensive lynchpin Trent Sainsbury who was booked for a second successive match.

The Palestinians also remain in contention, though they are likely to need all three points from their encounter with Jordan in Abu Dhabi to keep their chances alive.

South Korea's defender Kim Min-Jae, left, scores the opening goal during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between Kyrgyzstan and South Korea at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Jan 11, 2019. (HASSAN AMMAR / AP PHOTO)

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