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Azkals fall flat again in Asian Cup, bow to solid China

Daisuke Sato and Wu Xi chase for the ball. AFC

By Kevin Estrada

MAKATI--After given a huge scare by Kyrgyzstan, China booked their spot in the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup with a classy 3-0 win over the Philippines Friday evening at Abu Dhabi's Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.

Marcello Lippi got the better of Sven-Goran Eriksson as the East Asians got a comfortable passage to the Last 16 with their second consecutive win.

The Azkals absorbed their second defeat in as many matches and must win against the Central Asians next week in order to stand a chance to get out of Group C.

Wu Lei scored in both halves to bag a brace, with substitute Yu Da Bao putting the finishing touches in a resounding rout.

It took a touch of magic by Wu to give the Dragons a well-deserved lead five minutes before half-time when his chip inside the box rooted Michael Falkesgaard to his spot.

Kevin Ingreso tried to respond in added time but it was the right hand by Yan Junling that denied the Azkals an equalizer after pressing the issue for most of the match, seeing their possession count improved drastically after Monday's debut against South Korea.

The SIPG forward then made it 2-0 in the 66th minute with a neatly taken volley from a corner kick, taking the wind out of the Azkals' sails as they pressed for the equalizer.

Yu Dabao came on for the misfiring Gao Lin and the Beijing Guoan man made no mistake just 15 seconds after coming on, heading home in pointblank range after calls for a Luke Woodland handball fell into deaf ears.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada