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China and Uzbekistan cruise into World Cup third round

BANGKOK, Oct 28 (Reuters) China thrashed Myanmar 4-0 today to reach the third round of 2010 World Cup qualifying in Asia.

The Chinese, who are hoping to qualify for the finals for a second time after reaching the 2002 tournament, scored all four of their goals in the first half to condemn Myanmar to yet another early World Cup exit.

Uzbekistan were unable to match their impressive 9-0 first leg rout of Taiwan but scored two late goals in Taipei to win 2-0 and guarantee their place in round three.

Asian Cup qualifiers Oman beat Nepal 2-0 for a 4-0 aggregate win in Kathmandu and Southeast Asian champions Singapore qualified easily after a 3-0 win at home to Palestine, taking the two-leg score to 7-0.

After a shaky first-leg draw with lowly Bangladesh, Tajikistan hit five past the visitors in the second leg to guarantee their place in the next round along with Hong Kong, who thrashed East Timor 8-1.

Still looking to make amends for a disappointing Asian Cup, China went all out from the start and took the lead through Wu Wei'an in the 13th minute.

Jian Liu scored the second only a minute later, Zheng Jin made it three on 35 minutes and Zhang Yaokun rounded off the victory with a 39th-minute penalty.

NEUTRAL GROUND The match was played on neutral ground in Kuala Lumpur because of last month's violent crackdown by Myanmar's military rulers on protesting Buddhist monks.

China's regional ranking of 10th allows them to leapfrog the second round into the third, where the top five countries -- Japan, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and newcomers Australia -- will join the competition.

Of today's 19 qualifiers, the top 11 ranked teams go through to the first group phase in round three. The remaining eight qualifiers must play another home and away match in round two.

Hong Kong's Siu Ki Chan scored a hat-trick to ensure there was no repeat of last week's embarrassing first-leg tussle with strugglers East Timor, who have never won an international match.

Hong Kong, who won the first leg by a slender one-goal difference, were two up at the interval and then hit six past the hapless Timorese, while Numondzhon Khakimov bagged three goals to see off Bangladesh in Dushanbe.

Thailand and Syria have already qualified and Kuwait and Indonesia were given byes to the next round.

Reuters TB GC1937

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Story first published: Sunday, October 28, 2007, 20:04 [IST]
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