KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 - China stormed to an emphatic 5-1 victory over Asian
Cup co-hosts Malaysia on Tuesday, putting on the most impressive display of the
tournament so far as they cruised to victory in their Group C opener.
The 2004 runners-up became the first
of the favoured teams to score a victory in the tournament after Australia and
defending champions Japan were held to respective 1-1 draws by Oman and Qatar in
their opening group matches.
|Zheng Zhi (R)
and Malaysia's Shahrulnizam Mustapa fight for the ball during their 2007
AFC Asian Cup Group C soccer match in Kuala Lumpur July 10, 2007.
Despite enjoying home advantage, Malaysia failed to emulate the performances
of fellow southeast Asian co-hosts Vietnam and Indonesia, both of whom scored
surprise victories in their first games.
Thailand are the other nation hosting the 16-team tournament that culminates
with the final in Jakarta on July 29.
Although happy with the victory, China coach Zhu Guanghu said his team lost
their discipline in allowing Malaysia to score after leading 4-0.
"I am concerned that Malaysia managed to fight back and score against us,"
Zhu told reporters.
"Before that we were in control and were disciplined.
"We showed character to go out and score a fifth goal, but we will certainly
investigate why we allowed them to score and try not to let it happen again."
China's goal rush began after just 15 minutes when striker Han Peng headed in
Wang Dong's high cross from the right after Malaysia's defence was split open by
some dynamic approach play.
Midfielder Shao Jiayi, who plays for Energie Cottbus in the German
Bundesliga, doubled the lead after 36 minutes with another free header.
Any hopes of a Malaysian comeback were dashed six minutes after the break
when Wang made it 3-0 with a snap-shot from outside the box that deflected in
off defender Fauzie Nan.
Han made it 4-0 with his second goal of the match four minutes later, when he
turned in Mao Jianqing's cross from the left.
Malaysia scored a consolation goal in the 73rd minute when substitute Indra
Putra beat Li Leilei with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area, but Wang
restored Chinas four-goal advantage with a looping header in the final minute.
China play their next match on Sunday against Iran, who open their Group C
campaign against Uzbekistan on Wednesday.