Canberra: Midfielder Sun Ke scored twice to help China beat North Korea 2-1 and advance to the Asian Cup quarter-finals with a best-ever three straight wins as Group B leaders here Sunday.
China will challenge hosts Australia, runners-up of Group A, in the quarter-finals in Brisbane Jan 22, reports Xinhua.
Sun Ke, who scored the crucial winner in China’s 2-1 victory over Uzbekistan, continued his heroic performance at the nearly fully packed Canberra Stadium where most of the spectators were supporters of China.
Sun quickfired in less than one minute after kick-off with a nice toe-poke inside the penalty area after Korean defender Jang Song Hyok made an error in clearing Jiang Zhipeng’s long pass.
Sun doubled the advantage for China in the 42nd minute with a diving header at the far past following Jiang Zhipeng’s well-curved left wing cross.
It’s his third goal of the tournament and the 25-year-old attacker can compete for the golden boot prize of the tournament. Now, Jordan’s Hamza Al Dardour leads the scoring table with his four goals in Jordan’s 5-1 crush over Palestine.
The Koreans pulled one back in the 57th minute. Midfielder Jong Il Gwan rounded Jiang Zhipeng after receiving Pak Kwang Ryong’s left wing centre at the far post and his low drive was wrongly cleared by the Chinese defenders on the goal line, the ball bounced back to the empty net after Zhang Linpeng slid it to hit striker Gao Lin.
However, in the second half, North Korea rallied and launched some fierce attacks to test their rivals defence. But, they failed to get their second goal.