BANDUNG (Rahnuma): China’s U23 team rallied to beat the United Arab Emirates 2-1 to reach the final 16 of the men’s soccer competition at the Asian Games on Sunday.
Yao Junsheng scored a sensational lob from the middle circle to seal the win, the third one from as many games for China, at the 71st minute.
Mohammed Almesmari put the United Arab Emirates ahead, and Wei Shihao equalised for China with a stunning curled shot, before Yao’s lob put China through to the knockout stage as the top finisher of Group C.
Massimiliano Maddaloni, head coach of China, said he was not surprised to see Yao made such a wonderful goal.
“It is not new for me, as he is an intelligent player and often scored long shots in training,” the Italian said.
“I think he saw the UAE’s goalkeeper standing far out of the goal, and grasped that chance,” he said.
The United Arab Emirates, with one win and one loss from previous two group matches, had no choice but beat China to secure a berth in the final 16, and their determined attack paid off at the 32nd mintue.
It was Mohammed Almesmari who opened the scoring for the United Arab Emirates as he raced to a tapped pass from Ali Alyahyaee and drove the ball past China’s helpless goalkeeper Chen Wei
Six minutes later, Wei Shihao displayed exquisite skill to pull even for China when he beat a defender and sent home a powerful curling shot.
Then in the second half came the lethal lob of Yao.
Magiet Skorza, head coach of the United Arab Emirates, bemoaned his side running out of stamina after break.
“It was a very close match, but my players did not have much energy left in the second half and gave China more space,” he said.
“I know their number six player is very good, and we tried to limit his chances to shoot,” he said of Yao’s lob.
China will play against a third-placed team from Group A, B or F on Friday.