Iraq ousted China from World Cup qualifying with a 2-1 victory yesterday.
Zhou Haibing gave China a 1-0 lead in the first half, but Iraq — the defending Asian champions — rebounded with a first-half goal by Emad Ridha and the winner by Nashat Akram about 20 minutes into the second half.
China were eliminated with only three points in five games in Group 1. Iraq have seven points after five games and play their final qualifier next Sunday against Qatar.
Iraq captain Younis Mahmoud went off with an injury after only 11 minutes.
In the 34th minute, Zheng Zhi took an indirect free kick and passed to Zhou, whose shot from 20m opened the scoring.
Iraq equalized in the final minutes of the first half from a 10m header from Emad Ridha, setting the stage for Akram’s winner from 20m in the 66th minute.
The ouster could spell trouble for China’s manager Vladimir Petrovic. Petrovic is handling the team with head coach Radomir Dujkovic, who is also coaches China’s Olympic team.
Thailand 0, Japan 3
Japan took a giant step toward the final round of Asian World Cup qualifying with a resounding 3-0 win over a hapless Thailand yesterday.
Japan now have 11 points in Group 2 and a draw or win for Bahrain against Oman in the group’s other game later yesterday would see the three-time Asian champions into the final phase of qualifying on the road to South Africa.
It was the defenders who did the damage for Takeshi Okada’s side.
Playing in front of masses of drum-beating Japanese supporters in the Thai capital, the visitors struck first in the 22nd minute when Marcus Tanaka nodded home a corner from Yasuhito Endo.
Japan doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Endo turned provider again, this time sending a cross in for captain Yuji Nakazawa to head in at the far post. In the 88th minute, Kengo Nakamura latched onto a through ball and coolly slotted home to seal the match.
N Korea 2, Jordan 0
Hong Yong-jo scored twice as North Korea beat Jordan 2-0 in Pyongyang yesterday to seal not just their place in the final phase of Asian World Cup qualifying, but also South Korea’s.
Trailing the two Koreas by four points at the start of the game, Jordan needed a win to keep alive their hopes of being one of the 10 teams still standing on the road to South Africa.
But a goal in each half from Serbian-based striker Hong sealed their fate.
North Korea scored their first a minute before halftime when a quick counterattack culminated in Hong firing a powerful shot past Jordan keeper Lo’ai Al Amaireh.
Jordan threw everything into attack in the second half, but paid the price of leaving themselves exposed at the back when Hong went past three defenders before shooting past Al Amaireh 18 minutes from time.
Singapore 0, S Arabia 2
The Saudis, in their first match under new coach Nasser Al Johar, who replaced the sacked Helio dos Anjos earlier this week, took the points they needed against Singapore to ensure they remain on track.
It was one-way traffic with goals from Abdoh Autef in the first half and substitute Ahmed Al Fraidi in the second, leaving them on 12 points in Group 4 alongside Uzbekistan, who earned their place in the final qualifying round last week.
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