China, South Korea, Iran open Asian Cup with victories

South Korea's forward Hawang Ui-Jo kicks the ball during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between South Korea and Philippines at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Iran's forward Sardar Azmoun, back, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the AFC Asian Cup group D soccer match between Iran and Yemen at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Philippines' defender Alvaro Silva, right, challenges South Korea's midfielder Lee Jae-Sung during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between South Korea and Philippines at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Iran's forward Sardar Azmoun, centre, celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the AFC Asian Cup group D soccer match between Iran and Yemen at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
China's defender Yu Dabao celebrates afyet scoring second goal during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between China and Kyrgyzstan at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
South Korea's forward Hwang Ui-Jo, top, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between South Korea and Philippines at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
China's defender Yu Dabao celebrates afyet scoring second goal during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between China and Kyrgyzstan at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Kyrgyz players celebrate after they scored during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between China and Kyrgyzstan at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
South Korea's forward Hwang Ui-Jo, right, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between South Korea and Philippines at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Kyrgyz players celebrate after they scored during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between China and Kyrgyzstan at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
China's defender Yu Dabao scores his team's second goal during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between China and Kyrgyzstan at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Kyrgyz Republic's goalkeeper Pavel Matiash clears the ball in from of China's defender Wu Lei during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between China and Kyrgyzstan at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
South Korea's forward Hwang Ui-Jo, center, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between South Korea and Philippines at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Iran's head coach Carlos Queiroz, centre, argues with a referee Ryuji Sato, of Japan, during the AFC Asian Cup group D soccer match between Iran and Yemen at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

AL AIN, United Arab Emirates — With coach Marcello Lippi in charge and the team needing a bit of help from an own-goal, China came from behind to beat Kyrgyzstan 2-1 at the Asian Cup on Monday.

Lippi, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, is trying to win another title in what is likely to be his last major tournament. But it won't be easy in the United Arab Emirates.

Another coaching heavyweight, Sven-Goran Eriksson, lost his opening match of the Asian Cup when South Korea defeated the Philippines 1-0 in Dubai in the other Group C game.

In Group D, another favorite, Iran, routed Yemen 5-0.

China entered the Asian Cup with one win in seven games, including draws against Palestine, India, and Bahrain. It didn't look much better at the start of Monday's match.

Akhlidin Israilov gave Kyrgyzstan the lead with a low left-foot shot from outside the box just before halftime.

But five minutes into the second half, Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Pavel Matiash jumped to handle what seemed to be an easy catch following a corner kick. He was under no pressure with two of his teammates around him, but the ball went into the net off his gloves.

Yu Dabao then angled in a left-footer in the 78th minute to ensure the fourth straight victory for China in its Asian Cup opening game and improve its record against Kyrgyzstan to 3-0.

A runner-up in 1984 and 2004, China faces the Philippines and South Korea in its remaining group games.

In Dubai, the Philippines had only 18 percent possession against the 2015 Asian Cup runner-up but managed to hold firm until the 67th minute.

With forward Son Heung-min absent, Hwang Ui-jo scored the lone goal for South Korea.

The in-form Son is still with his Tottenham club for one more English Premier League match against Manchester United on Sunday before joining South Korea. He could be away for up to five of Tottenham's matches in all competitions if South Korea reaches the final on Feb. 1 in Abu Dhabi.

South Korea reached the final at the previous Asian Cup.

In Abu Dhabi, two first-half goals from Mehdi Taremi helped Iran ease past Yemen.

Iran is seeking a fourth title, with former Real Madrid and Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz in charge of Asia's top-ranked team.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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