In the other games of the day, Iraq held heavyweights Iran to a goalless draw and Vietnam defeated Yemen.
The Asian heavyweights confirmed their progression into the knockout rounds as group winners, while rising nations set course to make history on Wednesday in the AFC Asian Cup. In the big game of Group C, South Korea prevailed as the undisputed best of the group by defeating China 2-0 at the Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi. Son Heung-min’s brilliance allowed them to get goals in both halves, as Hwang Ui-oi and Kim Min-jae handed the Taegeuk Warriors all three points.
Watch: Korea Republic 2-0 China PR highlights
Bringing his fantastic form at club-level for his national side, Son caused all sorts of problems for Marcelo Lippi’s men, earning a penalty early on for Ui-oi to give them the lead. His movement, trickery caught China by surprise and later in the second half, a terrific corner met Kim’s powerful header to double the lead. Team Dragon only created a single chance in the whole game.
The Kyrgyz Republic attained qualification for the Round of 16, with a decisive 3-1 win over the Philippines at the Rashid Stadium, Dubai. A fantastic hat-trick from Vitalij Lux gave the White Falcons an important win. The Kyrgyz Republic were all over the Azkals throughout the game and Lux thrived in the scenario, moving forward with purpose. He gave his side the lead in the 24th minute, finishing off a smooth move confidently by slotting the ball into the top right corner.
Watch: Kyrgyz Republic 3-1 Philippines highlights
Just as things started to intensify in the second half, Lux’s brilliance in the final third gave the White Falcons all the comfort in the world. He doubled their lead with a brilliant finish, curling the ball into the net from just inside the penalty area, before completing his hat-trick after a rebound fell right into his path to finish calmly. While Philippines created some history of their own with a consolation goal- the first in their AFC Asian Cup history- from Stephen Schrock, it wasn’t enough. The win confirmed Kyrgyz Republic as one of the superior third-placed sides and as they’ll now face hosts UAE on Monday in the Round of 16.
In the big encounter of Group D, Iran and Iraq played out a rather uneventful 0-0 draw at the Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai. While this allowed Carlos Queiroz’s men to go ahead as group winners, fans were left disappointed as the game failed to produce any real fireworks. Strikers Sardar Azmoun and Mohamed Ali both had half-chances to put their side ahead, but failed to do so. It seemed a game where both teams realized their qualification status and slacked off before the real test starts next week.
Watch: IR Iran 0-0 Iraq highlights
While Iran and Iraq slowed down to play out an irrelevant match, Vietnam had much to play for against Yemen. The Golden Dragons defeated Yemen 2-0 at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain, thanks to goals from Quang Hai Nguyen and Ngoc Hai Que in each half. In a game dominated mostly by Vietnam, they dazzled fans with their attacking ability and Hai Nguyen’s free-kick allowed them to get the lead in the 38th minute.
Yemen were all over the place defensively and conceded a penalty in the 63rd minute, when Phan Vac Duc was brought down by Abdulaziz Al-Gumaei. Hai Que calmly took the spot-kick to give his side an unassailable lead in the game. While the Golden Dragons ventured forward to try and improve their goal-difference, they couldn’t get any more after that despite dominating much of the possession throughout.
Watch: Vietnam 2-0 Yemen highlights
After a day of frantic football, South Korea and Iran went through as Group C & D’s winners, while Iraq and China qualified as the two groups runners-up. While the Kyrgyz Republic also go through due to their decent goal-difference, Vietnam’s fate still hangs in the balance. While they should go through, it’ll all come down to the results from the last four group stage matches on Thursday to decide which remaining teams move ahead to the knockout rounds.