SHENYANG, northeast China, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) --
Belgium downed nine-man host China 2-0 in an Olympic soccer match which is
decisive for both team's qualification for the next round here on Sunday.
Belgium opened the scoring at the 8th minute, when forward Moussa Dembele broke away Chinese defenders, dribbled the ball into the box, and fired a powerful left-footed shot home.
Li Weifeng (R) of China is blocked during Men's First Round Group C Match 14 between Belgium and China of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games football event at Shenyang Olympic Stadium in Shenyang, an Olympic co-host city in northeast China's Liaoning Province, Aug. 10, 2008. Belgium beat China 2-0. (Xinhua/Ren Yong) Photo Gallery>>>
Forward Kevin Mirallas extended Begium's lead at the
80th minute by calmly slotting the ball into the net from the edge of the box.
"I am very happy with the result," said Belgium coach
Jean Francois De Sart. "It's an important match because losing it means we have
no chance for the next round."
China replenished gunpowder after lagging one goal
behind. Their best moment came three minutes before break, when forward Gao Lin
faced the goalkeeper one-on-one. But the opportunity was denied by Belgian
defenders as Gao chose to pass the ball to a teammate running toward the front
of the goal, rather than to strike by himself from the left.
China started fiercely at the second half. At the 53rd minute, defender Tan Wangsong was red-carded for kicking in the abdomen of Belgian defender Sebastien Pocognoli, making him roll on the pitch in agony.
Players of Belgium and China vie for the ball during Men's First Round Group C Match 14 between Belgium and China of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games football event at Shenyang Olympic Stadium in Shenyang, an Olympic co-host city in northeast China's Liaoning Province, Aug. 10, 2008. (Xinhua/Ren Yong) Photo Gallery>>>
The host team suffered another sting as Zheng Zhi, a
midfield mainstay of Chalton Athletic, had to hand his captain armband to
veteran defender Li Weifeng at the 64th minute after elbowing Belgian defender
"The red card was correct. Zheng Zhi hit me in the
stomach with his elbow. The referee was good and fair," said Vertonghen.
"The early goal was very important to guarantee the
victory. But China had only nine players and we should have scored more. I
believe we can get into the quarterfinals if we keep playing like this," said
Dembele who scored the first goal.
"We conceded the first goal very fast, it disrupted
our plan for the game. It messed us up. We got many chances but failed to
score," said forward Jiang Ning.
China had not won any matches in their only World Cup
appearance in 2002 and previous Olympics experience in the 1988 Seoul Games,
where they conceded a total of five goals.
The host country will take on medal favorites Brazil
and the "Little Devils" will meet underdog New Zealand in their last group
"After the game the possibility of getting qualified
is almost zero. But the players will be prepared to fight Brazil. It will be a
good opportunity to learn as Brazil represents the highest level of football in
the world," said Chinese coach Yin Tiesheng.