Wu Lei shines as China crushes Singapore 4-1 in FIFA World Cup qualifier

March 27, 2024
Updated 2024/03/27 at 8:35 PM
3 Min Read
Wu Lei of China greets the spectators after winning the group C match of 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers between China and Singapore in north China's Tianjin Municipality on March 26, 2024. (Xinhua/Sun Fanyue)

TIANJIN (Xinhua) — Wu Lei contributed two goals and one assist for China as the home team beat Singapore 4-1 in Group C of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers second stage here on Tuesday.

After the previous match between the two teams in Singapore last Thursday, where the Chinese team squandered a 2-0 lead to ultimately draw 2-2, China sat third in the group with four points, trailing group leader South Korea by three points and behind Thailand on goal difference, while Singapore had only one point.

Chinese head coach Branko Ivankovic benched captain Zhang Linpeng and goalkeeper Yan Junling for Tuesday’s match, as Gao Zhunyi and Wang Dalei took their places. Singapore changed five starters due to injury and suspension.

In a full stadium of 42,977 spectators, China broke the deadlock in the 21st minute, when Wu looped the ball over goalkeeper Hassan Sunny into the net, thanks to a direct pass from Zhang Yuning.

However, just seconds after the breakthrough, Chinese left back Liu Yang made a huge mistake, leaving Ryhan Stewart unmarked to deliver a right cross for Faris Ramli to score a free header.

The home team missed several goal-scoring opportunities in the rest of the first half and didn’t retake the lead until the 65th minute as Fei Nanduo scored his first international goal from a spot kick, after Gao Zhunyi was fouled in the penalty area.

In the 68th minute, Wu was booked and the team’s leading goalscorer will therefore miss the next critical match against Thailand for yellow card accumulation.

Chinese midfielder Li Yuanyi made a dangerous tackle in the 80th minute and was sent off with a direct red card.

Despite playing with one man down, Wu dribbled all the way from center circle and unleashed a thunder shot into the far corner in the 85th minute to make it 3-1 for China.

Five minutes later, Wu assisted Wei Shihao to score an open goal, sealing the 4-1 victory in the must-win match.

In the other group C match on Tuesday, South Korea won over Thailand 3-0 away and leads the group with ten points. China now moves up to the second place in the group with seven points, three points ahead of Thailand.

China will play the last two group matches against Thailand and South Korea respectively in June. The top two teams of the group will proceed to the next round.

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