Japan win, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia held
Kuala Lumpur: There was a win for Japan while Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia were held to draws as the three Asian giants finalised their Asian Qualifiers preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Thursday.
Japan defeated Paraguay 2-0, Korea Republic saw Georgia come from behind to force a 2-2 draw and Saudi Arabia fought back from a goal down for a 1-1 result with Mali.
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JAPAN 2-0 PARAGUAY
Ibaraki: Yuya Osako opened the scoring for Japan in the 23rd minute and Takumi Minamino doubled their lead seven minutes later in a match the four-time AFC Asian Cup champions dominated throughout.
Head coach Hajime Moriyasu was pleased with the result, although he felt Japan could have won by a wider margin.
"We were able to keep a clean sheet and win 2-0, but the best scenario would have been to add another goal and win 3-0," Moriyasu said after the game at Kashima Stadium. "But that is a task for us to solve starting from our next game."
The next game is against Myanmar in Group E of the Asian Qualifiers on Tuesday as Japan begin their campaign to qualify for a seventh successive FIFA World Cup and take a step closer towards winning the AFC Asian Cup for a record-extending fifth time.
Myanmar suffered a 1-0 defeat to Mongolia in their Asian Qualifiers opener on Thursday. Tajikistan defeated Kyrgz Republic 1-0 in the other Group E match on Thursday.
KOREA REPUBLIC 2-2 GEORGIA
Istanbul: A brace from Hwang Ui-jo would prove to be not enough as Korea Republic were held 2-2 by Georgia at the Başakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium in Istanbul.
Korea Republic looked to have sealed the win only for Giorgi Kvilitaia to score the equaliser just seconds before the final whistle.
The European side had taken the lead in the 40th minute through Jano Ananidze but Hwang, who came on as a second-half substitute, turned the match on its head.
Korea Republic's most prolific striker under head coach Paulo Bento, Hwang scored just two minutes into the restart as he poked home captain Son Heung-min's cross for his eighth goal in 17 matches under Bento's watch.
Georgia fought back but it looked like Hwang had sealed the win for Korea Republic when he headed home in the 85th minute only for Kvilitaia to have the final say.
Korea Republic play Turkmenistan in their opening Asian Qualifiers Group H match in Ashgabat on Tuesday.
The Central Asians will be on a high after defeating Sri Lanka 2-0 in their opening match on Thursday. DPR Korea beat Lebanon in the group's other match on Thursday.
SAUDI ARABIA 1-1 MALI
Damman: Salem Al-Dawsari's 53rd minute strike saw Saudi Arabia come from behind to force a 1-1 draw with Mali in Damman.
Adama Traore gave Mali the lead in the 38th minute but Saudi Arabia, who controlled the majority of the possession, won't be worried with the result as it was just the match they needed to cap off their preparations for the Asian Qualifiers.
The three-time AFC Asian Cup winners open their Group D campaign against Yemen on Tuesday as they seek a second consecutive appearance at the FIFA World Cup Finals.
Yemen kicked off their Asian Qualifiers journey with a 2-2 draw with Singapore on Thursday while Palestine stunned Uzbekistan 2-0.
Photos: AFP, Korea Football Association, Saudi Arabian Football Federation
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