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South Korea beat China 2-0 to finish top of Group C at Asian Cup

(Xinhua)    09:28, January 17, 2019

Hwang Hee-Chan (L) of South Korea vies with Zhang Chengdong during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup group C match in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 16, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

South Korea finished top of Group C of 2019 AFC Asian Cup by defeating China 2-0 to make it three victories from three and leave China in second place on Wednesday.

This is the fourth encounter between China and South Korea at the Asian Cup. China head coach Marcello Lippi made a number of changes, resting top-scorer Wu Lei who suffered shoulder injury. South Korea unexpectedly put Son Heung-min in the starting lineup after the Tottenham Hotspur strike just arrived at the UAE on Monday afternoon.

"The reason for starting Son? It's easy, every coach would like to see his best player on the field. Son is our best player and he can play in different positions to add diversity to our attacking strategy," said Paulo Bento, the head coach of South Korea.

South Korea started at a fierce pace and almost made a breakthrough as Hwang Ui-Jo forced a double-save out of China's goalkeeper Yan Junling in the 6th minute.

It took Son Heung-min 12 minutes to make his first threat of the game, producing a moment of individual skill to win a penalty, which was converted by Hwang Ui-Jo to a 1-0 lead.

China tried to rally seven minutes later through Jin Jingdao, whose shot inside the box flew over the crossbar. South Korea worked another good chance after 22 minutes when Hwang Ui-Jo's shot beat the goalkeeper but hit the post.

"Honestly, they beat us on possession, speed and personal skills, they are more aggressive than us," said Lippi, "They played with their best line-up, but I had to rest many starters like Wu Lei for the eighth finals."

Kim Min-Jae, who scored the only goal to help South Korea squeeze past Kyrgyzstan, doubled the lead by a powerful header connecting a corner kick from Son Heung-min five minutes after the break.

Kim Moon-Hwan missed the opportunity to hand South Korea a third goal in the 65th minute, and though China tried to come back, but their efforts were undermined by a lack of quality in the crucial passes.

"We dominated the whole match, especially in defense. Considering the opportunities we created, we should score more. I am glad that we finished top of the group, but the knockout-stage is the real challenge for us, we must keep focus and respect the opponents, trying our best to progress as far as we can," Bento said.

China will take on Group A runners-up Thailand in the knockout stage on January 20 while South Korea will play one of the four best third-placed finishers.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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