China downs DPRK 2-1 to cruise to last eight with 9 points

Updated: 2015-01-18 19:50


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China downs DPRK 2-1 to cruise to last eight with 9 points

China's Sun Ke celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the AFC Asian Cup Group B soccer match between China and DPRK in Canberra, Australia, Jan 18, 2015.[Photo/IC]

CANBERRA - Midfielder Sun Ke scored twice to help China beat the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) 2-1 and advance to the Knockout stage with a best-ever three stragight wins as Group B leaders at the AFC Asian Cup before tens of thousands of Chinese fans here on Sunday.

China will challenge hosts Australia, runners-up of Group A, at the quarter-finals in Brisbane on Jan 22.

Sun Ke, who scored the crucial winner in China's 2-1 victory over Uzbekistan, continued his heroic performance tonight at the nearly fully packed Canberra Stadium where most of the spectators are supporters of China. Sun quickfired in less than one minute after kickoff with a nice outstep stab inside the penalty area after DPRK defender Jang Song Hyok made an error in clearing Jiang Zhipeng's long pass.

Sun doubled the advantage for China on 42 minutes with a diving header at the far past following Jiang Zhipeng's well-curved left wing cross. It's his third goal of the tournament and the 25-year-old attacker can compete for the golden boot prize of the tournament. Now Jordan's Hamza Al Dardour leads the scoring table with his four goals in Jordan's 5-1 crush over Palestine. If Sun could do more in their quarter-final clash with Australia, he may catch or surpass Al Dardour's record.

The Koreans pulled one back in the 57th minute. Midfielder Jong Il Gwan rounded Jiang Zhipeng after receiving Pak Kwang Ryong's left wing center at the far post and his low drive was wrongly cleared by the Chinese defenders on the goal line, the ball bounced back to the empty net after Zhang Linpeng slided it to hit striker Gao Lin. Jong could have levelled the score if his dipping header two minutes later following Ro Hak Su's cross went a little bit lower. And the lively attacker missed another at the beginning of the second half when his bullet shot was parried by a focused keeper Wang Dalei.

China coach Alain Perrin brought on most of his major lineup for the game, although China have secured the top place after two victories over Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan, and the Frenchman's players controlled the first half with much more possession and threats. Left winger Yu Hai's smart lobbing shot in a tight angle before the end of the break seemed to be goal-bound, but a DPRK defender headed the ball out timely on the goal line.

However, in the second half, DPRK rallied and lauched some fierce attacks to test their rivals defence, substitute forward So Hyon Uk nearly levelled in the 82nd minute with a powerful half-volley rattling the crossbar at the edge of the box. Sim Hyon Jin also missed a good opportunity two minutes later. So came close again in injury time with another header to be parried by Wang Dalei. The Koreans showed their courage and attacking ability, but the finishing was not accuate enough to change the result. The Koreans finally ranked the fourth at Group B after three consecutive defeats.