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Asian Cup: Lippi’s China comes from behind; Vietnam advances (video)

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AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) China fought back from a goal down to beat Thailand 2-1 in the round of 16 of the Asian Cup on Sunday and avoid a potentially embarrassing upset.

Supachai Jaided put Thailand ahead in the 31st minute, turning and shooting despite being surrounded by three defenders, before Chinese striker Wu Lei missed a string of good chances.

World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi brought veteran Xiao Zhi off the bench in the 64th and three minutes later he scored the equalizer, knocking the ball into the net on the rebound from his own saved header.

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Gao Lin quickly added a second from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Chalermpong Kerdkaew. China goalkeeper Yun Junling averted extra time when he stopped Chalermpong’s fierce shot in stoppage time.

China will face either Iran or Oman in Thursday’s quarterfinal as it bids to end a 15-year absence from Asian Cup semifinals. China’s national team has often fallen short despite the country’s long-term ambitions of becoming a soccer superpower and the wealth of Chinese clubs. China has only qualified for the World Cup once, losing all its games in 2002, and lost its only Asian Cup final to Japan two years later.

Thailand, which got out of the Asian Cup group stage for the first time in 47 years, had caretaker coach Sirisak Yodyadthai in charge after firing Milovan Rajevac following its opening group-stage 4-1 loss to India.

Earlier Sunday, Vietnam surprised an on-form Jordan team on penalties to reach the quarterfinals.

The 20-year-old midfielder Bui Tien Dung stroked the winning penalty into the bottom-left corner as Vietnam won the shootout 4-2 after the game finished 1-1 following extra time. Vietnam took the initiative in the shootout after Jordan’s Baha Seif hammered a penalty onto the crossbar and Vietnam’s Russian-born keeper Dang Van Lam leapt to palm away Ahmed Salah’s shot.

Despite being nine places higher in the world rankings, Vietnam was something of an underdog given it had only once before played an Asian Cup knockout game and Jordan had beaten reigning champion Australia in the group stage.

Jordan took the lead in the 39th minute after referee Alireza Faghani gave a rare indirect free kick inside the penalty area for a high foot. After the slightest of touches from a teammate, Baha Abdel-Rahman blasted the ball into the net from a tight angle.

After struggling to create chances in the first half, Vietnam was more incisive after halftime. In the 51st, Nguyen Cong Phuong flicked teammate Nguyen Trong Hoang’s cross high into the net. Shortly after, a Jordan defensive blunder nearly gave Vietnam the lead but Anas Bani Yaseen rushed back to clear the ball off the line.

Vietnam will play either Japan or Saudi Arabia in its first Asian Cup quarterfinal since 2007.

It’s the first time the Asian Cup has had a last-16 round after expanding to 24 teams.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Asian Cup: Mabil scores beauty as Australia goes through (video)

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AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) Australia is through to the knockout rounds at the Asian Cup, although the defending champion hasn’t made it look pretty.

Australia needed a stoppage-time goal from Tom Rogic to beat Syria 3-2 on Tuesday after twice letting leads slip. A draw would have been enough to finish runner-up in Group B behind Jordan – which beat Australia 1-0 in their opening game – and the title holder was below its best in eliminating a resolute Syrian team, which finished last in the group.

[ MORE: 2019 Asian Cup news ]

Palestine’s 0-0 draw with Jordan in Abu Dhabi means it can still reach the round of 16 as one of the four best third-place teams in the new 24-team format.

The Palestinians have two points and will go through if enough low-ranked teams in other groups draw their games on Wednesday and Thursday.

Australia will play the Group F runner-up – 2011 champion Japan or Uzbekistan – next Monday in the first knockout round.

If Australia’s overall play was unconvincing for a team which tested eventual champion France in a 2018 World Cup group game, two of its goals were impressive.

Awer Mabil opened the scoring in the 41st minute with a curling left-foot shot from just outside the penalty area. Rogic decided the game with a powerful left-foot shot from the same distance.

In between, Chris Ikonomidi’s poked shot past Syrian goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma was judged to have crossed the line before Omro Al Midani’s attempted clearance. Without goal-line technology, or video review before the quarterfinal stage, the assistant at the touchline and fifth official beside the goal helped make the decision.

Syria first leveled though Omar Khrbin in the 43rd, and then Omar Al Soma’s 80th-minute penalty kick after he fell to the ground as a cross was swung in from the right flank.

Jordan tops the group with seven points, and next plays a third-place team – Bahrain, Vietnam or Yemen.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Asian Cup wrap: UAE tops India, Jordan stays perfect (video)

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United Arab Emirates got a much-needed win as the Asian Cup began its second round of group stage games on Thursday.

Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout scored for the hosts in a 2-0 defeat of India at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

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The win was necessary after a surprising draw with Bhutan to start Group A play. UAE now leads the group by a point heading into the final match day, when it faces Thailand.

The War Elephants beat Bhutan and join India on three points. Chanathip Songkrasin scored Thailand’s goal.

In Group B, Jordan clinched a spot in the knockout rounds with a 2-0 defeat of Syria. Palestine meets Australia on Friday, and the winner will be in pole position to join Jordan in the next round. Syria has one point, while the Socceroos are pointless after falling to Jordan on Jan. 6

Asian Cup: Jordan stuns defending champ Australia

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AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) If Australia is going to retain the Asian Cup, the champions will have to do it the hard way.

In the first big shock of the 2019 tournament, Jordan — the world’s 109th-ranked team — pulled off one of the biggest wins in its history by beating Australia 1-0 on Sunday.

Anas Bani Yaseen was the match-winner, finding space following a short-corner routine by Jordan to guide in a near-post header in the 26th minute.

Jordan had just 24 percent possession in the match and rode its luck under severe pressure in the second half, with Awer Mabil hitting the post for Australia and Jamie Maclaren having a goal disallowed for a narrow offside.

After Jordan goalkeeper Amer Shafi produced a double save in the last attack of the match, the referee blew the final whistle and Jordan’s players sank to their knees and clutched their heads.

While the Jordanians are already close to a third quarterfinal appearance in the Asian Cup, Australia likely cannot afford another setback against Syria or Palestine in its other Group B matches in the United Arab Emirates.

“This will hurt everyone, I know that,” Australia captain Mark Milligan said. “It’s hurting me at the minute.”

In the second game on Sunday, Sunil Chhetri overtook Lionel Messi to become the second highest-scoring active international player by netting two goals for India in its 4-1 win over Thailand.

Chhetri moved onto 66 goals, one more than Messi. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (85) is ahead of him.

Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua also scored for India, which climbed atop Group A above host nation United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who drew 1-1 on Saturday.

Australia, the second-best team in the Asian conference behind Iran, has been in a similar position before at the Asian Cup – in 2007, the Socceroos drew their opener to Oman and then lost 3-1 to Iraq, only to qualify for the knockout stage by thrashing Thailand 4-0 in their last group game.

Twelve years on, they appear to be missing influential midfielder Aaron Mooy, who plays in the English Premier League with Huddersfield and is out of the Asian Cup because of injury. They also lack a cutting edge, with veteran striker Tim Cahill now retired and Mathew Leckie not currently available after a hamstring injury.

The Australians couldn’t break down a packed Jordan defensive line, resorting in the end to long balls into the penalty area.

“I just think we were a little lethargic in our ball movement,” Milligan said.

“We know we have to be better if we want to progress and succeed in this tournament.”

In Sunday’s late game, Palestine played Syria to a 0-0 draw and earned its first-ever Asian Cup point.

The 2019 edition of the Asian Cup is the biggest ever, with 24 teams involved — mirroring the expansion made by the European Championship for its most recent tournament in 2016. It is taking place against the backdrop of a diplomatic crisis in the gulf region.

Harry Redknapp uncertain about future as Jordan coach

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SYDNEY (AP) Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp remains uncertain about his future with Jordan beyond the team’s World Cup qualifying match against Australia on Tuesday.

Redknapp, who arrived Saturday for Jordan’s must-win match against the Socceroos, said earlier this week that he’d be open to extending his two-match coaching deal with Jordan should the team progress to the next round of Asian qualifying.

Jordan, which beat Bangladesh 8-0 in Redknapp’s first match in charge on Thursday, trails first-place Australia by two points in Group B, but could qualify for the third round as one of the four best runner-up teams in the eight groups.

[ USMNT: Match recap | Player ratings | Three things ]

Redknapp says he hasn’t discussed his contract with Jordan Football Association president Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, adding “I’ve enjoyed it obviously, but I don’t know about the future.”

“I only came for two games, that was what I did with Prince Ali,” Redknapp added. “I’m (adviser) at (second-tier) Derby at the moment so as soon as I get back from here I go straight to Derby. We play Cardiff away on Saturday, it’s a big game for us. I just want to get a great result from Jordan and go from there.”

Redknapp, who led Tottenham into the Champions League for the first time in 2010 and went on to manage Queens Park Rangers from 2012 to 2015, expects a tough match from Australia on Tuesday. The Socceroos went on a scoring spree of their own on Thursday, beating Tajikistan 7-0.

“It’s got the makings of a real good game,” he said. “We need to win, so we’ve got to be going for it. We’ll have to start well because they’ll be a big crowd, great atmosphere.”