Soccer-Late fightback earns China record ninth Asian Cup title

By Michael Church

(Reuters) - China claimed a record-extending ninth Women's Asian Cup title after staging a dramatic second-half comeback to hand South Korea a 3-2 defeat in Navi Mumbai on Sunday.

Xiao Yuyi scored three minutes into injury time to cap a late title-winning resurgence from the Chinese, who had trailed to strikes from Choe Yu-ri and Ji So-yun at half-time.

Tang Jiali's 69th minute penalty sparked the revival and a header from Zhang Linyan levelled the scores with 18 minutes remaining before Xiao hit the winner to give the Chinese the trophy for the first time since 2006.

The title had looked destined to go to the Koreans for the first time in the tournament's 47-year history when Choe and Ji gave Colin Bell's side a two-goal halftime lead.

Choe put the Koreans in front in the 27th minute, finishing off a move that saw Lee Geum-min released behind the defence before rolling the ball across goal for Choe to slot home.

Chelsea midfielder Ji then doubled the advantage from the penalty spot three minutes into first-half injury time after the ball hit Chinese defender Yao Lingwei on the arm.

Referee Casey Reibelt was pointing to the spot again midway through the second half when Lee Young-ju was judged to have handled in the area, and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tang scored from the spot.

Three minutes later China were level, with Tang powering past two defenders before sending in a cross from the right that Zhang Linyan headed firmly beyond Kim Jung-mi.

China's keeper Zhu Yu made a reflex save to keep out an effort from Korea's Son Hwa-yeon as both teams sought a late winner, and Xiao made no mistake at the other end when she was played in by Wang Shanshan.

Earlier in the day, Vietnam beat Taiwan 2-1 to claim the final berth available via the Asian Cup for next year's Women's World Cup finals in Australia and New Zealand.

The Asian Cup has doubled up as a World Cup qualifier, with five berths available at the tournament alongside the co-hosts.

Semi-finalists Japan, China, South Korea and the Philippines had already sealed their spots.

Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy struck 11 minutes into the second half to earn the Vietnamese the win they needed to finish on top of a three-team repechage.

Taiwan and Thailand, who also played in the repechage, will now go through to a series of intercontinental playoffs to be held next February.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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