AFC Asian Cup: China, Vietnam, Iran advance to quarterfinals

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-21 04:44:35|Editor: Yurou
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ABU DHABI, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Veteran forward Xiao Zhi came off the bench to inspire a second half come back for China who beat resilient Thailand 2-1 on Sunday in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup round of 16 knockouts.

Vietnam, the last team surviving the group stage as the fourth best third-finisher, became a dark horse into the quarterfinals, stunning Jordan 4-2 on penalties after 1-1 in regular time and 0-0 in extra time.

Hot favorite Iran booked another quarterfinal berth by easing 2-0 past Oman.

The first day of knockout action was decided by those who held their nerve from 12 yards as spot-kicks were key in a trio of encounters.

A second-half double for China at the Al Ain's Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium saw them come from behind to bag their spot in the last eight.

Thailand land the first blow on the half-hour mark when a sharp swivel from Supachai Jaided allowed him to fire the War Elephants in front, but persistence from Marcelo Lippi's side ensured they weren't going to be heading home just yet.

First it was Xiao Zhi who, following up on his powerful header, managed to stab China back on terms with just over 20 minutes to go. But it took just four for them to find the all-important winner, thanks largely to some reckless defending from Chalermpong Kerdkaew.

He brought down Gao Lin in the area who duly dusted himself off and fired high into the top corner to send them through.

China will face Iran in the quarterfinals.

At Rashid Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, Vietnam's tournament to remember continued as they booked their last-eight spot thanks to a nail-biting shootout triumph against Jordan.

It was the Middle Eastern side who were on top in the opening period. They had already threatened before Baha'a Abdulrahman rattled in a thumping free-kick with half-time looming, picking out the top corner superbly.

Park Hangseo's side returned reinvigorated and took no time at all in levelling matters after the break, with Nguyen Cong Phuong meeting Nguyen Trong Hoang's cross to power home the equaliser.

Another hour of action saw neither side come up with a winner and it was left to Bui Tien Dung to lash the crucial penalty into the bottom corner.

Playing at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, it all could have been so different for Oman.

Having won a penalty inside a minute they could have had the perfect start, but a sensational fingertip save by Ali Beiranvand denied captain Ahmed Al Mahajiri.

Iran didn't waste that stroke of good fortune.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh pounced on some casual defending to toe Team Melli ahead, before Ashkan Dejagah didn't make the same mistake as his opposite number, with the skipper doubling their advantage from the spot before the break.

Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi should have put the game to bed on several occasions in the second half, but they weren't made to pay for their profligacy as Asia's top-ranked side cruised into the quarters.