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China opens Asian Cup with 2-1 victory over Kyrgyzstan

Emirates Soccer AFC Asian Cup China Kyrgyzstan

China’s players celebrate after the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between China and Kyrgyzstan at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)


AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) With coach Marcello Lippi in charge and needing a bit of help from an own-goal, China came from behind to beat Kyrgyzstan 2-1 Monday at the Asian Cup.

The 70-year-old Lippi, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, is trying to win another title in what is likely to be his last major tournament. But it won’t be that easy to do it this year in the United Arab Emirates.

China entered the Asian Cup with one win in seven games, including disappointing draws against Palestine, India and Bahrain. It didn’t look much better at the start of Monday’s match.

Akhlidin Israilov gave Kyrgyzstan the lead with a low left-foot shot from outside the box just before halftime.

But five minutes into the second half, Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Pavel Matiash jumped to handle what seemed to be an easy catch following a corner kick. He was under no pressure with two of his teammates around him, but the ball went into the net off his gloves.

Yu Dabao then angled in a left-footer in the 78th minute to ensure the fourth straight victory for China in its Asian Cup opening game and improve its record against Kyrgyzstan to 3-0.

A runner-up in 1984 and 2004, China faces the Philippines and South Korea in its remaining Group C games.


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