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China edge HK 1-0 in Asian qualifier
Updated: 2004-04-01 08:45

Talisman Hao Haidong struck with a 70th-minute header to spare China's blushes in a 1-0 win over Hong Kong of China in an Asian World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.

Zheng Bin of China (13) is chanlenged by Situ Wenjun of Hong Kong during a 2006 World Cup Asian qualifier between China and Hong Kong of China Wednesday evening in Hong Kong. [Xinhua]
China looked less than convincing in wet conditions but the result allowed them to preserve their 100 per cent record and gave them a three-point lead at the top of Group Four after two matches.

The 33-year-old Hao, a solid servant for China down the years, nodded home after a corner from skipper Li Weifeng caused confusion in the Hong Kong defence.

China, missing Everton midfielder Li Tie, ruled out for the season with a broken leg, were anxious to avoid a repeat of their 2-1 loss to Hong Kong in May 1985 -- a result that cost them a place at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

The Chinese managed that but they lacked a cutting edge in attack and, when they did forge chances, Hong Kong goalkeeper Fan Chun-yip was in superb form, brilliantly keeping out Manchester City defender Sun Jihai in the 32nd minute.

Chinese soccer fans waving their national flags on the stand during a 2006 World Cup Asian qualifier between China and Hong Kong of China Wednesday evening in Hong Kong. [Xinhua]
"Their goalkeeper played well. He was outstanding," said China coach Arie Haan. "We should have had two penalties though. But the result is the most important thing."

In the other Group Four match, Kuwait beat Malaysia 2-0 in Kuantan to join Hong Kong on three points.

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