AFC U-23 Championship: Hosts China cruise to opening victory

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Hosts China got their 2018 AFC U-23 Championship campaign up and running on Tuesday with a comfortable 3-0 win over Oman at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre.

The Chinese broke the deadlock right on the half-hour mark when Li Shuai charged forward on the overlap and crossed for Yang Liyu, who sent a fine first-time effort on his left foot into the top corner.

Just four minutes later, they doubled their lead from another attack down the left; Li Xiaoming making a late run into the box to beat Wei Shihao’s inch-perfect cross and squeezing a deft header in at the far post.

And, in the 53rd minute, the win was effectively secured when Wei capped off a fine individual display with a goal of his own – climbing high between two defenders to meet Yao Junsheng’s lovely delivery and sending a header past Ibrahim Al-Mukhaini’s despairing dive.

The convincing triumph tentatively sends China straight to the top of Group A ahead of Tuesday’s later game between Qatar and Uzbekistan, and was remarkably their first-ever in tournament history after they lost all their six games in the previous two editions.

CHINA: Zhou Yuchen, Li Hailong, Liu Yiming, Gao Zhunyi, Li Shuai, He Chao, Li Xiaoming (Nie Aoshuang 85’), Yao Junsheng (Liu Ruofan 89’), Yang Liyu, Wei Shihao (Nan Song 66’), Ba Dun.

OMAN: Ibrahim Al-Mukhaini, Abdulaziz Al-Gheilani, Majid Al-Saadi, Thanir Al-Rushaidi, Samir Al-Alawi, Mataz Saleh (Marwan Awlad Wadi 79’), Abdullah Fawaz, Zahir Al-Aghbari (Jameel Al-Yahmadi 60’), Ibrahim Al-Sawwafi (Ahmed Al-Kaabi 46’), Al-Mandhar Al-Alawi, Muhsen Al-Ghassani.