Big win keeps China's hopes alive
Jose Antonio Camacho's China kept alive their flickering hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup with a thumping 4-0 win over Singapore on Tuesday.
Yu Hai broke the deadlock in the 41st minute before Li Weifeng struck in the second half and Zheng Zheng added a late double, even after China went a man down for a straight red card to Huang Bowen.
China needed two wins from their last two games and a vastly improved goal difference to stand any chance of reaching the final qualifying round, and they gave themselves the best possible chance at Jalan Besar Stadium.
The visitors showed their intent when they went close in the first minute, and on 23 minutes Hao Junmin had a glorious chance to open China's account but his vicious shot hurtled just over the bar.
Singapore had another close shave four minutes later when Yu ran clear of the defenders but the midfielder's low effort was deflected out of play by goalkeeper Lionel Lewis.
Aleksandar Duric nearly shocked China in the 34th minute in one of Singapore's rare attacks but he could not connect with a low rifle of a cross which skimmed just beyond his reach right in front of China's goal.
But China, under former Real Madrid coach Camacho since August, went 1-0 up before half-time after some nifty passing found Yu in a Singapore penalty box packed with defenders, and he made no mistake from close range.
Singapore started the second half more aggressively and were unlucky not to equalise in the 53rd minute when the unmarked Duric, picked out by a cross into the Chinese box, saw his shot strike the woodwork.
But two minutes later, the visitors doubled their advantage as defender Li headed into the Singapore net from an inswinging corner.
Singapore 'keeper Lewis denied midfielder Hao in the 61st minute, and five minutes later China's evening was blemished with Huang's red card for aiming a punch at Mustafic Fahrudin over a crunching tackle.
Despite going down to 10 men, China were determined to up their goal-count and Zheng outran his markers and slotted the ball past a diving Lewis in the 72nd minute.
And Zheng struck again in the 81st minute with a sweet strike which beat Lewis and buried itself in the right of Singapore's goal.
However, China's good work will be for nought if 2007 Asian champions Iraq can take one point from their last two games -- against already qualified Jordan later on Tuesday, and eliminated Singapore on February 29.
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