AFC U-23 CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS: GROUP J - PHILIPPINES 0-2 CHINA
Phnom Penh: China rebounded from their opening day disappointment to record a 2-0 win over the Philippines on Friday in Group J of the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers.
After drawing 0-0 with Cambodia on Wednesday, the victory takes China - who have already qualified for next year’s continental event as hosts - to the top of the group with one game to play. They are a solitary point ahead of Japan who are scheduled to face the Cambodians later today, while the Philippines are anchored to the foot of the table following a second successive defeat.
China captain He Chao opened the scoring in the 15th minute when, from a Tang Shi free-kick, he was allowed far too much time and space by Filipino defenders Jordan Jarvis and Jeremiah Rocha before bundling the ball home to register China's first goal of the qualifiers.
With the Philippines rarely troubling China goalkeeper Zhou Yuchen, who was a spectator for large swathes of the match, Zhang Xiuwei duly doubled the Chinese lead, the substitute latching onto a pinpoint Tang pass and firing home an unstoppable shot to effectively end the game as a contest.
China will now face Japan in a decidedly intriguing encounter on Sunday, while the Philippines are set to play Cambodia on the same day.
China coach Massimiliano Maddaloni "I am happy with the win today. It was not going to be easy because in their last match the Philippines lost 8-0 to Japan and of course they didn't want a repeat of that, so this match they played with a lot of heart and desire. My players played well and created a lot of chances and shots on goal. Maybe two goals is a little less than expected but I am happy with my team."
Philippines coach Marlon Maro "My team were able to play more forward passes today so I think the result, despite the loss, is a positive one. We always prepare our team to play 100% in all our games.”