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China flies into last 16 behind Wu

The Associated Press

China’s Wu Lei, right, celebrates after scoring a goal with teammate Wu Xi during Group C Asian Cup action on Friday.

The Associated PressDUBAI (AP) — China made it to the knockout round of the Asian Cup on Friday, while defending champion Australia stayed alive by rebounding from a stunning opening defeat.

China opened with a hard-fought win against Kyrgyzstan in Group C but found no difficulties getting past the Philippines 3-0.

Australia put its 1-0 opening loss to Jordan in the past by routing Palestine 3-0 in Group B.

China star forward Wu Lei scored two superb goals — a curling right-footed shot into the top corner in the first half and a volley in the second — against a Philippines squad making its Asian Cup debut. Yu Dabao added the third with a header a few seconds after entering the match late.

China has six points, three more than South Korea, which faced Kyrgyzstan later. Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines have no points. The top two teams in each group and the four best third-place teams advance to the round of 16.

For Australia, Jamie Maclaren and Awer Mabil scored 2 minutes apart in the first half and substitute Apostolos Giannou added another in the second at Rashid Stadium.

Jordan, which has already advanced to the next round, has six points, three more than the Socceroos. Syria and Palestine have a point each from their opening draw. Australia will try to secure its spot in the last 16 on Tuesday when it faces Syria. Palestine plays Jordan at the same time.

“We’re just getting started, it’s exciting times ahead,” said Chris Ikonomidis, one of the three changes to the starting lineup made by Australia coach Graham Arnold. “It’s a new era under Arnie and we’re really finding our feet now.”

This is Australia’s first tournament squad in a generation without veterans Tim Cahill or Mile Jedinak, who helped the team win the Asian Cup in 2015.

Monaco adds MF Fabregas

MONACO (AP) — Struggling Monaco has boosted its relegation fight by signing experienced midfielder Cesc Fabregas from Chelsea until June 2022.

The deal reunites Fabregas with Thierry Henry, who played with Fabregas at Arsenal and is now Monaco’s coach.

Fabregas has been used to being near the top of the league during spells with Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea. But with Monaco it will be totally different as he goes straight into a relegation scrap, with Henry’s side mired in 19th place ahead of Sunday’s trip to face sixth-place Marseille.Speech

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