China braved humidity and heat to beat pesky Oman 2-0 in Muscat on Friday, pulling off their straight second win in their seventh World Cup campaign.
Both goals of China came in the second half respectively from playmaker Qi Heng and central defender Fan Zhiyi.
Bora Milutinovic, China's head coach, praised his players' performance. "They played well, especially under this condition. It's no easy for them to play under this condition. I am very satisfied with them."
China, which thrashed UAE 3-0 in their first game with a blitz strategy, seemed rather sloppy in the humid heat of the Arabic sea port. They seldom threatened Oman's goal in the first half.
Oman failed to take the home advantage, finding themselves unable to unlock China's defence anchored by Fan Zhiyi, who played with Crystal of England.
But in the 42th minute Oman won a penalty when Fan fell Oman's foward Al Siyabi in the area and the refree Khalidi Supian of Malaysia immediately pointed to the point. China's goalkeeper Jiang Jin helped China survive the scare with a superb save, blocking out Al Noobi's shot from the spot.
Milutinovic was especially happy with JIang. He said: "Jiang made an excellent save. He proved himself a trustworthy goalkeeper. "
Oman's head coach Bernd Stange, who is from Germany, said that Jiang broke Oman's game with this save. "The penalty put a brake on our team. Before that, they played an amazing game, the best we had. But the penalty destroyed them. We had not enough creation of power, not enough professional experience to bring us through. "
China's continuous attack finally bore fruit in the 70th minute when Qi Heng, China's playmaker, bursted into the area to knock a through ball from right defender Sun Jihai past Oman's goalkeeper Al Mazroet, silencing the boisterous home crowd.
Fourteen minutes later, Yang Pu, who came on from the bench in the second half was pulled down in the area and was awarded a penalty. Fan buried it from the spot.
China, which failed in their all last six attempts to qualify for the World Cup finals, is to play their third game in Doha against Qatar on September 8.
Asian World Cup qualifiers are now undergoing in two groups, the top finishers of which will automatically qualify for the finals. And the better second-placed team is to play off against a team from Europe for an extra berth.
(People's Daily 08/31/2001)