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Asia Cup: China Out After Uzbek Rout
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China crashed out of the Asian Cup at the group stage yesterday after being seen off 3-0 by Uzbekistan in Kuala Lumpur.

The Chinese soccer team (red) has been bundled out of the AFC Asian Cup, after losing to Uzbekistan 3-0 on Wednesday, July 18.

China needed to secure at least a draw to qualify from Group C while Uzbekistan had to secure the win. This shame is compounded by the fact that this is the first time in 27 years that China has failed to reach the knock-out rounds.

The two sides enjoyed a balanced game although Uzbekistan was the more aggressive team. Their persistence finally paid off in the 72nd minute when striker Maksim Shatskikh slotted home from close range.

This took the wind out of China's sails and Uzbek midfielder Timur Kapadze put the result beyond doubt in the 87th minute.

Aleksandr Geynrikh then added insult to injury, scoring with a free kick in injury time to make it 3-0.
Substitutes were key to Uzbekistan's win, said coach Rauf Inileyev, adding "I am very happy with the result even though it was not an accurate reflection. We were lucky to win through free kicks," a smiling Inileyev said at a news conference after the match.

"We know China usually tire in the second half, and our substitutes helped us use this to our advantage," he said.

He admitted that Chinese players were still feeling the strain of their 2-2 draw against Iran on July 15.

Uzbekistan, who finished second in Group C behind Iran, will face South Korea in the quarter-finals.

(Xinhua News Agency July 19, 2007)

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