Changsha (China), March 23 (IANS) China's hopes to qualify for the 2018 football World Cup have been rekindled as Italian head coach Marcello Lippi's wards registered a 1-0 home win over South Korea here on Thursday.
Yu Dabao headed in the Wang Yongpo corner in the 34th minute to give China the first win in six matches in the third phase of the World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers, reports Xinhua news agency.
The victory temporarily moved China out of the bottom of the six-team Group A where Iran stands atop with 11 points from five matches, ahead of South Korea on 10. Uzbekistan sit in third with nine and Syria are fourth with eight. Qatar lie bottom of group after five matches.
With four games left, China, collecting five points in the provisional fifth place, still have a chance to earn a qualification ticket.
The top two in Group A and Group B will advance to Russia 2018 directly after a home-and-away round-robin. The third place finishers from both groups will clash in a playoff with the winner going on to face the fourth-placed team from Concacaf zone for a berth.
China took the lead after 34 minutes when Wang's inward curving corner found Yu at the near post, where the Beijing Guo'an striker glanced a precise header into the bottom-right corner.
Before half-time, Ji Dongwon was the visitor' most dangerous player, who had two shots both narrowly off target.
There were worrying times after the re-start for the host when goalkeeper Zeng Cheng made several brilliant saves to deny close shots from Ki Sungyueng and Ji Dongwon.
More than 30,000 fans cheered non-stop for their home team at the He Long Stadium, where China improved their unbeaten record with five wins and four draws since 2005.