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Gao quits China after Uzbekistan defeat

China coach Gao Hongbo has resigned from his post after a 2-0 defeat in Uzbekistan left automatic 2018 World Cup qualification looking increasingly unlikely.

The hosts were kept at bay throughout the first half in Tashkent but it was a one-sided affair after the interval, Uzbekistan going ahead in the 50th minute through Marat Bikmaev after Eldor Shomurodov's cross-field pass.

China struggled to produce much of a response and the home side wrapped things up with five minutes to go, as Otabek Shukurov's long-range effort took a hefty deflection and found the top corner.

The result left Gao with nowhere else to turn as China now find themselves chasing an eight-point gap between themselves and automatic qualification.

"I spoke with the heads of the Chinese Football Association before the match and we agreed if we couldn't reach a positive result against Uzbekistan I would stand down from my post," Gao told reporters.

"As a result of this defeat, I bring an end to my time in charge of the China national team.

"I want to thank to all the fans and media which supported us during the games.

"I hope the China national team will be better in the future and we will meet in football again."

Uzbekistan sit in the second automatic progression spot with nine points from four games, one behind leaders Iran.