GUANGZHOU, China (AFP) - Three-time champions South Korea dealt another bodyblow to Chinese football with an impressive 3-0 win in the Asian Games last 16 on Monday.
After struggling into the knockout stages, China were no match for the cultured and talented Koreans who now go on to face Uzbekistan for a place in the semi-finals.
"We scored an early goal which meant we were going to win," said South Korea coach Hong Myung-Bo.
"The Chinese fans who were supporting China before the match began to support us towards the end."
South Korea had dominated the first half and could have gone in at the break at least three goals up.
They had taken the lead after 19 minutes when a swift break down the left forced the stretched Chinese defence to furiously back-pedal.
Cho Young-Cheol was left in plenty of space to gather the cross and slot the ball across to Kim Jung-Woo to score past Zhang Shichang in the China goal.
Zhang then saved well from Park Chu-Young and Kim Bo-Kyung to keep the deficit down to one goal at the interval.
But even Zhang was powerless to keep out the second goal, scored by Monaco's Park Chu-Young with a curling free-kick around the defensive wall four minutes into the second half.
South Korea were now unstoppable and Kim Jung-Woo scored his second of the night after 57 minutes when he nipped between two defenders to slot home Ji Dong-Won's smart pass.
China searched for a way back in but both Wang Xuanhong and Li Kai seeing efforts going wide.
The defeat comes at the worst possible time for China whose national team failed to qualify for the World Cup and whose under-23 team here had failed to win a single match before home fans at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Meanwhile, Qatar's Fahad Khalfan joined the ranks of football's greatest blunders when he missed an open goal from one yard as the defending champions crashed out.
The 18-year-old had pounced on Uzbekistan goalkeeper Timur Juraev's error in the first period of extra-time.
The Qatari then dribbled the ball to the front of the goal, before incredibly stabbing his left-foot shot against the post, leaving his teammates stunned and the teenager shell-shocked.
Uzbekistan made the most of their lifeline with Ivan Nagaev grabbing the winner in the 23rd minute of extra-time.
Four-time champions Iran beat a depleted Malaysia 3-1 to make the quarter-finals where they will face Oman who trounced Hong Kong 3-0.
Iran used the experience to good effect against a Malaysian side making its first appearance in the second round since 1978.
Malaysia came into the game in crisis after three players were sent off in their stormy 3-0 defeat to China in their final group game.
The Iranians got the breakthrough in the 53rd minute when Karim Ansari Fard picked the ball up on the edge of the box and rifled it past the diving goalkeeper.
Seyed Hosseini made it 2-0 seven minutes later before Amir Sharafi added a third as Iran ran their opponents ragged. Malaysia got a consolation penalty four minutes from time but it was too little too late.
Ali Farah Hadhri Hussian scored Oman's first on the half hour and he added another in the second half before Aman Bait Nasib put the game beyond Hong Kong's reach with a third on 68 minutes.
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