Group A: Iraq beat UAE to close in on playoff spot
Riyadh: Iraq revived their hopes of snatching the playoff spot in Group A of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar™ with a valuable 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates at the King Fahd International Stadium on Thursday.
Following Syria’s 3-0 victory against Lebanon earlier in the day, the UAE went into the game with the knowledge that a draw would be all they needed to confirm a place against Group B third place Australia in the playoff stage.
Seoul: Korea Republic moved to the top of Group A in the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar™ after a 2-0 victory over the Islamic Republic of Iran on Thursday saw them climb above their opponents with a game to play.
After dominating the first 45 minutes at Seoul World Cup Stadium, Korea opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time through Son Heung-min before Kim Young-gwon doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute with the goal that ultimately killed off the Iranian challenge.
The victory meant Korea claimed a first win over Iran in more than a decade as they also dealt the Iranians their first defeat in Group A to mean they go into their final game away to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday knowing three more points would see them win the group.
Sidon: Syria secured their first win in Group A of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar™ against hosts Lebanon with a 3-0 win at the Saida Municipal Stadium on Thursday.
Defeat for the home side means the United Arab Emirates need a point from their remaining two games to advance to the playoff stage, while Lebanon’s slender hope would require them to win their final match and wait for other results to go their way.
In stark contrast to the reverse fixture that saw Lebanon win 3-2, Syria took the game by the scruff of the neck from the get-go, clinically converting their chances in the first half and consigning The Cedars to defence for most of it.
Group B: Japan beat Australia to reach Qatar 2022™
Sydney: Japan secured their place in a seventh successive FIFA World Cup™ emerging from a crucial AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar™ clash against Australia with a 2-0 win on Thursday.
A pair of late goals from substitute Kaoru Mitoma finally rewarded Japan on a night where they peppered the Australian goal, leaving the Socceroos in a precarious position in their own bid to reach Qatar 2022.
The result means Graham Arnold’s side will enter the playoffs in June, with wins required over the third placed side in Group A, as well as the fifth placed South American side, if they are to qualify.
Sharjah: Saudi Arabia’s FIFA World Cup qualification celebrations were muted on Thursday evening as Herve Renard’s side were forced to share a 1-1 draw with China PR in Sharjah in their Group B of AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar clash after a late penalty from Zhu Chenjie.
Saleh Al Shehri put the Saudis, who had been confirmed as qualifying for the FIFA World Cup due to Japan’s win over Australia earlier in the day, in front in first half injury time before Zhu’s 82nd minute spot kick levelled the scores.
As a result the Japanese will go into Tuesday’s final round of matches with a one point lead over Saudi Arabia with Australia in third spot. China PR remain in fifth with the draw moving them onto six points from nine games.
Hanoi: Khalid Al Hajri scored the only goal of the game as Oman defeated Vietnam 1-0 in Group B of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar™ at the My Dinh Stadium on Thursday.
Following a first half of few chances in the Vietnamese capital, it was Branko Ivankovic’s Oman who netted decisively 20 minutes after the restart when Al Hajri headed home a corner from the right.
The win for Oman leaves them comfortably in fourth place in the standings ahead of their Matchday Ten meeting with fifth-placed China PR in Muscat on Tuesday, while bottom side Vietnam will round off their campaign away to Japan.