DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — China made it to the knockout round of the Asian Cup on Friday, while defending champion Australia stayed alive by rebounding from a stunning opening defeat.
China opened with a hard-fought win against Kyrgyzstan in Group C but found no difficulties getting past the Philippines 3-0.
Australia put its 1-0 opening loss to Jordan in the past by routing Palestine 3-0 in Group B.
China star forward Wu Lei scored two superb goals — a curling right-footed shot into the top corner in the first half and a volley in the second — against a Philippines squad making its Asian Cup debut.
Yu Dabao added the third with a header a few seconds after entering the match late.
China has six points, three more than South Korea, which faced Kyrgyzstan later Friday. Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines have no points.
The top two teams in each group and the four best third-place teams advance to the round of 16.
For Australia, Jamie Maclaren and Awer Mabil scored two minutes apart in the first half and substitute Apostolos Giannou added another in the second at Rashid Stadium.
Jordan, which has already advanced to the next round, has six points, three more than the Socceroos. Syria and Palestine have a point each from their opening draw.
Australia will try to secure its spot in the last 16 on Tuesday when it faces Syria. Palestine plays Jordan at the same time.
“We’re just getting started, it’s exciting times ahead,” said Chris Ikonomidis, one of the three changes to the starting lineup made by Australia coach Graham Arnold. “It’s a new era under Arnie and we’re really finding our feet now.”
This is Australia’s first tournament squad in a generation without veterans Tim Cahill or Mile Jedinak, who helped the team win the Asian Cup in 2015.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.