China reached the last 16 of the Asian Cup after Wu Lei’s double helped defeat the Philippines 3-0 in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Marcello Lippi’s men followed up their opening victory against Kyrgyzstan with another three points as Wu Lei lit up an otherwise forgettable encounter with a stunning goal in either half.
The Shanghai SIPG star posed China’s chief threat throughout and was duly rewarded, while substitute Yu Dabao then netted with his first touch to add gloss to a deservedly one-sided scoreline late on.
China are now guaranteed to at least finish among the four best third-placed teams in the pool stage and can secure top spot in Group C in their final match against South Korea.
The two sides initially cancelled one another out in a scrappy start, before Wu Xi squandered the game’s first real opportunity as he directed a header wide with the goal gaping after 33 minutes.
It was an effort of high quality that broke the deadlock, though, as Wu Lei sent a 20-yard curler over Michael Falkesgaard and into the top-left corner shortly before the break.
GOAL ! 80′ Yu Dabao heads in a third for China PR!
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 11, 2019
Wu Lei almost added another spectacular strike following the restart, but Falkesgaard was this time equal to his powerful first-time volley.
The 27-year-old would not be denied a second, however, and swivelled onto Hao Junmin’s free-kick to arrow the ball beyond the helpless goalkeeper.
A sharp late stop from Falkesgaard did at least prevent a seemingly inevitable hat-trick, but Yu was introduced before the resulting corner and stooped to head into the net.
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