Uzbekistan beat China 1-0 in China Cup third-place playoff (updated)

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NANNING, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Hosts China slumped to their second successive 1-0 defeat in the 2019 China Cup, losing to Uzbekistan in the third-place playoff to finish bottom of the four-team tournament here on Monday.

With no chance of winning the China Cup after losing their first match against Thailand, coach Fabio Cannavaro took the opportunity to make five changes to his starting lineup, with captain Feng Xiaoting notably among those dropped to the substitutes' bench.

The game started out as a fairly low-intensity affair, perhaps befitting the status of a match that neither side would have wanted to take part in at the outset of the tournament. Though the quality of passing was low from both sides, Uzbekistan looked the more likely to make something happen through their use of the overlap on the right.

It was from one of their forays down the right that Uzbekistan were to score the game's opening goal in the 34th minute, after a poor clearance from Gao Shunyi allowed striker Eldor Shomurodov to barge through the China defense and unleash an unstoppable half-volley from a tight angle past goalkeeper Yan Junling.

The goal seemed to jolt China into life, as they now went about their play with a greater sense of urgency, though it was Uzbekistan who came closest to scoring the game's second goal as Shomurodov headed straight at Yan after another attack down China's left just before the interval.

The second half began largely as the first had, with little in the way of incident in the opening stages aside from Uzbekistan playmaker Javokhir Sidikov volleying wide from outside the box. Wei Shihao was almost put through on goal on 64 minutes but Uzbekistan keeper Sanjar Kuvvatov was alert to the danger.

As China pushed forward in search of an equalizer they were leaving spaces at the back, and Uzbekistan striker Odil Akhmedov, who plays his club football in China with Shanghai SIPG, missed several opportunities to extend the visitors' lead.

The home side tried desperately to level the scores during the last action of the game, with the entire team including Yan camped inside the Uzbekistan area for a corner, but the visitors held firm to take third place in the 2019 China Cup.

"I was content with our defense today," said Uzbekistan coach Hector Cuper after the match. "But we have lots of areas to improve on. We couldn't convert a lot of our chances, and we must improve on that in future."

"I have learned a lot over the past ten days," said Cannavaro, who only took over as China head coach on March 15. "I was satisfied with our fighting spirit, but we made mistakes in the transition between defense and attack. We also didn't create many chances, and seemed to be lacking in confidence."

In addition to having taken on the China job, Cannavaro remains head coach of CSL side Guangzhou Evergrande, and would not be drawn on how long he would continue to manage both sides.

"Managing China is a huge task and a huge responsibility. I have discussed the current arrangement with both the CFA and Evergrande, but we haven't finalised anything yet. We will have more discussions, and I will consider all the options very carefully." Enditem

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