Wednesday 16 January 2019, 18:40

Iran, Korea Republic top groups as debutants Kyrgyz Republic also advance

Sardar Azmoun of Iran celebrates team-mates after scoring his teams second goal against Vietnam
  • Korea Republic top Group C on nine points with zero goals conceded

  • Vitalij Lux hat-trick leads debutants Kyrgyz Republic to knockout stage

  • IR Iran win Group D after goalless draw with Iraq

AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 contenders IR Iran and Korea Republic both finished as group winners having conceded zero goals throughout the group stage, while Iraq and China PR will be heading to the second round as runners-up.

Debutants Kyrgyz Republic qualified for the Round of 16 after a 3-1 win over the Philippines, which sent the Azkals packing their bags. Vietnam kept their hopes of making the last 16 alive with a convincing win over Yemen. wraps up all the action from the final round of Group C and D matches.

Korea Republic 2-0 China PR, Group C Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Boosted by the presence of captain Son Heungmin in this battle for top spot in Group C, Korea Republic were purring from the off. Forward Hwang Heechan had China on edge but it was the silky feet of Son that led to the opener. He was felled in the box before Hwang Uijo tucked the penalty home.

Uijo could easily have had a second, striking the inside of the post following a searing, curling effort, but the win was wrapped up soon after the break. Son was again involved as defender Kim Minjae met his corner like a freight train to head in the Taeguk Warriors’ second goal that saw them win the group.

Kyrgyz Republic 3-1 Philippines, Group C Rashid Stadium, Dubai

The debutant pair both had hopes of prolonging their stay but it was the Kyrgyz Republic who took control early on. They took a deserved lead thanks to an unstoppable finish, with Vitalij Lux picking out the top right corner with a first time strike.

Michael Falkesgaard did all he could to keep the Philippines in the hunt, but Lux struck twice more after the break to seal a hat-trick to clinch third in Group C. His second was a sensational swivel and shot to pick out the top corner again, while his third was much simpler, pouncing after the ball had struck the post. Though Stephan Schrock’s free-kick, which drifted all the way in, gave Philippines their first goal as a parting gift.

Vietnam 2-0 Yemen, Group D Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain

Vietnam kept their hopes of knockout round qualification alive thanks to two set-piece goals, one in each half, against Yemen. Nguyen Quang Hai opened the scoring with a high-quality free-kick curled in to the top right corner. Ahmed Al-Sarori nearly found an equaliser for Yemen when he showed his pace on the counter attack and it was only the fingertips of Dang Van Lam that denied Yemen their first goal of the tournament.

Yemen substitute Abdulaziz Al-Gumaei made things worse for his side when he pulled Phan Van Duc back in the penalty area. Vietnam captain Que Ngoc Hai cooly slotted in from the spot to put the result beyond doubt and to give coach Park Hangseo’s side a chance of continuing on in the competition.

IR Iran 0-0 Iraq, Group D Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai

Carlos Queiroz’s Iran kept their perfect defensive record in tact following a goalless draw with neighbours Iraq. Sardar Azmoun will be ruing a missed opportunity as he failed to direct a header in from close range early on.

Iraq nearly found a dramatic late goal when Alaa Abbas flicked a header on target, but Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand showed impressive agility to tip the effort over his crossbar to ultimately insure his side would finish as group winners.