CHANGSHA, China, March 23 (Xinhua) -- China's hope to qualify for the 2018 World Cup has been rekindled as Italian coach Marcello Lippi led Team Dragon to a 1-0 home win here on Thursday.
Yu Dabao headed in the Wang Yongpo corner in the 34th minute to give China the first win in six matches at the third phase of the World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers.
The victory temporarily moved China out of the bottom of the 6-team Group A where Iraq stands atop with 11 points from five matches, ahead of South Korea on 10. Uzbekistan sits in third with nine and Syria is fourth with eight. Qatar lies bottom of group after five matches.
With four games left, China, collecting five points in the provisional fifth place, still has chance to earn a qualification ticket. The top two in Group A and Group B will advance to Russia 2018 directly after a home-and-away round-robin, while the third-place finishers from both groups will have a playoff with the winner going on to face the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF zone for a berth.
China took the lead after 34 minutes when Wang's inward curving corner found Yu at the near post, where the Beijing Guo'an striker glanced a precise header into the bottom-right corner.
Before halftime, Ji Dongwon was the visitor' most dangerous player, who had two shots both narrowly off target.
There were worrying times after the re-start for the host when goalkeeper Zeng Cheng made several brilliant saves to deny close shots from Ki Sungyueng and Ji Dongwon.
More than 30,000 fans cheered non-stop for their home team in the 95 minutes at He Long Stadium, where China improved their unbeaten record with five wins and four draws since 2005.