BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) – Substitute Sun Ke’s superb individual goal just two minutes after coming on fired China to a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan and their first Asian Cup quarter-final in 11 years Wednesday.
After trailing 1-0 at half-time thanks to a 22nd-minute goal from Odil Ahmedov, China levelled through Wu Xi after 55 minutes before Sun’s 68th-minute strike.
With Uzbekistan seeming to tire in Brisbane’s heat and humidity, Sun picked up the ball 35 metres out, drove to the edge of the box and unleashed a powerful strike, beating the despairing dive of keeper Ignatiy Nesterov and finding the bottom lefthand corner.
The win means China are now certain to top Group B and will meet either South Korea or Australia in Brisbane in the quarter-finals on January 22. The victory was well-deserved for the Chinese, who dominated the second half and could have at least scored two more goals.
They went into the match full of confidence after upsetting three-time champions Saudi Arabia in their opening match.
Playing in front of thousands of red-shirted Chinese supporters, they dominated early before the Uzbeks began to get into the match.
Ahmedov and captain Server Djeparov started pulling the strings in midfield and Uzbekistan opened the scoring when Ahmedov scored from distance, the ball taking a huge deflection off a lunging Wu and finding the back of the net.
But China were a different side after the break and the equaliser, when it came, seemed inevitable.