Team China beat Singapore in Tianjin

Not perfect but well enough. Team China celebrated a long-awaited World Cup qualifier win against Singapore on Tuesday to offer home fans an escape from long sufferings supporting the underachieving squad.

Roared on by over 42,000 home fans waving red flags and clapping tirelessly, the Chinese men’s team battled through a tense first half before going all out on offense in the second half to beat Singapore 4-1 in an Asian zone qualifier for the 2026 FIFA World Cup at the Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Tianjin.

The triumphant return leg of Team China’s doubleheader against Singapore has helped keep its 2026 Cup qualifying hopes alive while bringing solace to fans following last week’s disappointing 2-2 draw against the lowest-ranked Group C opponent in Singapore.

China’s star striker Wu Lei, a former Spanish La Liga player, scored a brace for a second straight game, one each half, to clinch Team China’s second group-stage win, following a 2-1 defeat of Thailand in November, and helped new head coach Branko Ivankovic secure his first victory at the helm.

“After settling with a draw in the last game we’d suffered a lot of pressure. We made some adjustment coming back home and finally played loose and more confidently today,” said Wu, who has scored five goals in four games during the first-round qualifying campaign.

“I am so proud that we came out of the shadow (from the draw) with a brilliant performance and delivered under pressure.

“This win has significantly relieved our pressure. Now we have the chance of qualifying into the next round held tight by ourselves and we are looking forward to put on another good performance facing Thailand in the next game,” said Wu, who played for La Liga’s Espanyol from 2018-2022.

Wu’s 21st-minute opener for China was followed by an instant equalizer by a Faris Ramli header in the very next minute in the first half, but second half goals from Fei Nanduo’s spot-kick, a second from Wu, and a late strike from Wei Shihao dampened Singapore’s surging attempt for another comeback.

The two teams played out a 2-2 draw in Singapore last week as the hosts rescued a point with second-half goals from Faris and Jacob Mahler after Wu’s brace had given China a 2-0 lead in Ivankovic’s first game in charge.

China will host Thailand in its next outing when the first-round qualifying campaign resumes on June 6, before challenging current group leader South Korea five days away.

With the precious three points earned at home, China now sits second in Group C, trailing only South Korea, who beat Thailand 3-0 on Tuesday, with a bright prospect to enter the final qualifying stage involving 18 teams.