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Zheng Zhi own goal spells doom for China

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 215

Pin South Koreas Ji Dong-Won (L) fights for the ball with Chinas Zheng Zhi (R). AFP
South Koreas Ji Dong-Won (L) fights for the ball with Chinas Zheng Zhi (R). AFP

Zheng Zhi own goal spells doom for China

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 215

Zheng Zhi's early own goal ultimately condemned China to a 3-2 defeat to South Korea on Thursday despite a spirited fight-back in their 2018 World Cup qualifier.

China's talisman became their fall-guy as he inadvertently bundled Son Heung-Min's free kick into his own net on 20 minutes at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Lee Chung-Yong and Koo Ja-Cheol both scored to pile on the pain for China but the visitors nearly hauled their way back into it following late strikes from Yu Hai and Hao Junmin.

However, a precious equaliser eluded Gao Hongbo's men and they start with a defeat as they embark on the year-long final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

After Zheng's own goal, it wasn't until the 62nd minute that Lee climbed to head South Korea's second, before Koo slotted their third four minutes later.

Yu's blistering finish pulled one back for China and when Hao curled in a textbook free kick with 14 minutes on the clock, South Korean nerves were jangling.

Son, fighting for his place at English club Tottenham Hotspur, was in the thick of it in the early exchanges and he shot wide on 18 minutes.

Two minutes later, China's Zhang Linpeng was booked for bringing down Oh Jae-Suk just outside the box. From Son's free kick, Ji Dong-Won's glancing header went in off Zheng's shin.

Another Ji header nearly doubled South Korea's lead shortly afterwards, and the unmarked Lee Chung-Yong then missed a great chance when he skied his volley over the bar.

Meanwhile China were getting little joy and it wasn't until the 28th minute that they had their first clear sight of the Korean goal, when Wu Lei broke down the right before losing his balance and shooting harmlessly wide.

Their best chance of the first half came when Yu intercepted a pass and released Wu one-on-one with goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong, before the forward again miscued.

China started the second half strongly but it was South Korea who took control of the game when Ji's cross picked out Lee for a powerful header and a 2-0 lead.

Koo then converted a fine cross by Son for 3-0, seemingly putting the game out of reach for China.

But Yu and Hao had other ideas, leading a strong rally to make the game far closer than the hosts had bargained for.

South Korea hung on for the narrow victory, with goalkeeper Jung making some crucial saves as the clock ticked down.

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