Wednesday, 29 March 2017

AFC 2018 WCQ: Iran, Japan, South Korea & Australia All Win

Iran moved to within a single victory of the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday with a 1-0 win over China in front of 100,000 fans at the Azadi Stadium.
Medhi Taremi's goal early in the second half broke stiff Chinese resistance and put Carlos Queiroz's men on 17 points from seven games in the Asian third round of qualification with three games left to play.

With the top two from Group A and B heading to Russia next summer, Iran are now within touching distance of the finals.

The loss leaves China's World Cup hopes, already slim, looking non-existent. Team Dragon are eight points behind South Korea in second and seven behind Uzbekistan in third with just three games to play.

After the defeat to China five days earlier, South Korea got a win they needed against Syria, prevailing 1-0 win Seoul.

South Korea got their win after just four minutes when defender Hong Jeong-ho volleyed home from a corner.

In the third game of Group A, Uzbekistan managed a 1-0 home win over Qatar through a free kick from Odil Akhmedov in the 66th minute.

The headlines in Group B came in Sydney as Australia returned to winning ways after four successive draws and ended Mahdi Ali's five-year tenure as coach of United Arab Emirates.

Goals in each half from Jackson Irvine and Mathew Leckie gave the Socceroos a 2-0 win to move onto 13 points from seven games.

The result keeps the hosts in touch with the top two.

Leicester City's Shinji Okazaki celebrated his 50th international goal on Tuesday as Japan brushed aside Thailand 4-0 to edge closer to a sixth successive World Cup.

Shinji Kagawa gave the hosts the lead in their Asian Group B qualifier with a sharp finish after eight minutes, before Okazaki thundered home a diving header to bring up his half-century in swashbuckling style.

Okazaki's landmark strike, on his 108th Japan appearance, came on 19 minutes in Saitama and effectively killed the contest.

Yuya Kubo and Maya Yoshida added further goals for the Blue Samurai after the break, and Eiji Kawashima saved a late penalty from Kraison Adisak to deny rock-bottom Thailand a consolation.

Yahya Al Shehri scored with a fine strike from the top of the box early in the second half to give Saudi Arabia a 1-0 win over Iraq.

The result moves Saudi Arabia level on 16 points, level with Japan atop the table and three above Australia in third.

Iraq will need to win their final three games and hope Australia lose theirs to have any chance to finish third.

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