Qu Bo brace beats Hong Kong

TOKYO - Forward Qu Bo struck twice to give China a 2-0 win over Hong Kong on Sunday and an excellent chance of capturing the East Asian championship.

The Chinese finished the four-team tournament with seven points and will win the title outright if hosts Japan fail to beat holders South Korea by three goals later on Sunday.

"We have struggled to beat lower-ranked teams in the past," China coach Gao Hongbo told reporters. "But we are learning from South Korea and Japan in that respect.

"If we continue working hard and improving we can catch up with top Asian teams like Korea and Japan. We showed good mental strength and the players all did their jobs superbly."

The industrious Qu fired China in front with a clinical finish just before the end of a uneventful first half and doubled their lead from the penalty spot in the 74th minute.

China held hosts Japan to a goalless draw before stunning South Korea 3-0 in their first victory over the Koreans since the countries began playing full internationals in 1978.

The Chinese, who will not be joining Asian rivals Japan and South Korea at this year's World Cup finals in South Africa, won the East Asian title in 2005.

Hong Kong lost all three of their games.