Updated: 03/23/2013 02:28 | By Agence France-Presse

Late-goal drama as China, Malaysia, Hong Kong win

China's Yu Dabao grabbed a vital injury-time winner Friday and Malaysia and Hong Kong also had late goals to thank as they took big steps forward in qualifying for the 2015 Asian Cup.


Late-goal drama as China, Malaysia, Hong Kong win

Late-goal drama as China, Malaysia, Hong Kong win

Substitute striker Yu popped up in the third added minute in rain-soaked Changsha to hand China an unconvincing 1-0 win over Iraq and throw a lifeline to embattled coach Jose Antonio Camacho.

In the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, Chan Wai-ho pounced in the 87th minute to earn the hosts a 1-0 victory over Vietnam which put them temporarily on top of Group E.

But they slipped to second later when the United Arab Emirates fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 in Abu Dhabi courtesy of second half goals from Ahmed Khalil and Ali Mabkhout.

China's tie against 2007 champions Iraq was played in heavy rain in Changsha but the hosts were given a golden opportunity to secure their first points of qualifying when their opponents were reduced to 10 men just before half-time.

Iraq defender Ali Adnan was given his marching orders with a second yellow for encroachment as Sun Xiang took a free-kick.

China had been unlucky not to go ahead in the 17th minute when Sun Ke's looping cross was met with a powerful header by Yang Xu, which Iraq goalkeeper Noor Sabri deflected wide.

But they failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority until deep into stoppage time, with Camacho, his job under threat after a run of six games without a win, looking increasingly agitated pitchside.

Finally, as the final whistle loomed, they won a corner which was met by a weak header from Zhang Linpeng, before Yu pounced for the vital winner.

"We were the home team and they had a player sent off so we had the advantage, but the second half it was raining so much that we couldn't capitalise on that," said Yu.

Camacho, ex-boss of Real Madrid and Spain, has been under heavy pressure from Chinese media after his team crashed out of World Cup qualifying, lost a series of friendlies and went down 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their Group C opener.

But defeat was a cruel blow for Iraq manager Vladimir Petrovic in his first game in charge. The Serb formerly coached China but was sacked after he failed to steer them to the 2010 World Cup.

Meanwhile, minnows Hong Kong extended their dream start to qualifying with the win over Vietnam, which follows last month's impressive away draw to Uzbekistan.

In Shah Alam, Malaysia, former co-hosts of the Asian showpiece, looked headed for their second defeat in two games when they went behind in the 12th minute.

But the Malaysians were back on level terms before the half-hour through Azamuddin Akil, before Khyril Muhymeen's clincher with the 2-1 win lifting them off the foot of Group D, a position now occupied by Yemen.

Bahrain top the group after remaining unbeaten with a 1-0 defeat of Qatar.

In Beirut, Lebanon ran out comfortable 5-2 winners over Thailand, helped by Hassan Chaito's first half double to leave the hosts tied in third, with Group B leaders Iran and Kuwait playing next Tuesday.

The top two in five groups of four, plus the best third-placed team, will qualify for the 2015 tournament in Australia, along with automatically qualified defending champions Japan, Australia (2011 runners-up, hosts) and South Korea (third), Challenge Cup champions North Korea and winners of 2014 Challenge Cup.

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