Wins for Japan, Korea Republic, Iraq
Kuala Lumpur: Korea Republic made it two wins out of as many matches with a 2-1 triumph over Colombia while Japan bounced back from defeat to see off Bolivia 1-0 in international friendly matches on Tuesday.
Both teams will savour the wins as they start their buildup for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers which kick off later this year.
KOREA REPUBLIC 2-1 COLOMBIA
Seoul: Korea Republic edged Colombia 2-1 as captain Son Heung-min ended his international scoring drought at eight matches.
Son's first-half strike and Lee Jae-sung's tie-breaking goal in the second half before a sellout crowd of over 64,000 at Seoul World Cup Stadium gave 38th-ranked South Korea, who defeated Bolivia 1-0 last week, their second straight win over No 12 Colombia.
Luis Diaz had the lone goal for Colombia, whose strong push for an equaliser was foiled by the heroics of goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo.
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Son, the Tottenham Hotspur ace, entered Tuesday's contest without a goal in eight matches under coach Paulo Bento but finally found the back of the net in style as the beneficiary of some pretty passing play.
Hwang In-beom picked Gustavo Cuellar's pocket in midfield and poked the ball ahead to forward Hwang Ui-jo. When multiple defenders collapsed on him just outside the box, Hwang found Son charging down the right side and threaded a perfect pass.
Son fired a hard shot at goalkeeper Ivan Arboleda, who only got a touch of the ball and fell backward as it sailed past him.
James Rodriguez came off the bench at the start of the second half and his presence alone seemed to light a fire under the stagnant Colombian attack, with the South Americans leveling the tie just three minutes later thanks to some great individual effort by Luis Diaz.
Diaz secured the ball inside the left edge of the box and made his way through the defence. He was nearly stripped of the ball, but after regaining control, Diaz beat Kim Moon-hwan and floated the ball into the far corner for his first international goal.
But the home side had the answer in the 58th minute, as Lee Jae-sung scored with his left foot from the top of the box.
He found room to roam on the right side and cut towards the middle as he took the shot. It wasn't particularly hard, but the diving Arboleda ended up deflecting it into his own net.
JAPAN 1-0 BOLIVIA
Kobe: Shoya Nakajima scored the winner as Japan bounced back from losing their previous match to defeat Bolivia 1-0 at the Misaki Park Stadium.
It was a welcome return to winning ways for the Blue Samurai after their last two matches had ended in defeat, including the final of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 to Qatar.
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers approaching, Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu is putting the final touches in place but Japan, despite dominating against Bolivia, found it hard to break the South Americans down.
They had to wait till the 76th minute as Al Duhail midfielder Nakajima unleashed a shot which settled in the back of the net as Japan ended the international break with a win after having lost 1-0 to Colombia on Friday.
UAE 0-0 SYRIA
Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates played to a 0-0 draw with Syria at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
UAE, who had defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 in an international friendly on Thursday, couldn't maintain their winning momentum against a resolute Syria, who lost 1-0 to Iraq and defeated Jordan by the same score in matches played last week.
IRAQ 3-2 JORDAN
نهاية المباراة pic.twitter.com/kwINtduooC— Jordan Football (@JordanFA) March 26, 2019
Basra: Iraq defeated Jordan 3-2 as they made it two wins on the trot during the international break.
Having defeated Syria last week, Iraq were in fine form as they saw off a determined challenge from Jordan to clinch victory at the Basra Sports City Stadium.
Sources: AFP, Yonhap
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