Tuesday, June 19, 2018

AFC World Cup qualifying wrap: Japan on the brink, Uzbekistan climb

SoccerNews in World Cup 14 Nov 2012


Japan have all but sealed their place at the 2014 World Cup after Shinji Okazaki’s last-gasp goal handed them a 2-1 win over Oman on Wednesday.

Following a swift counterattack, the striker scored a minute from time to stun Oman in Muscat after the hosts had equalised in the 77th minute.

The win propels Japan to 13 points with three games remaining in Group B, with Australia, Oman and Iraq on five points.

Hiroshi Kiyotake, playing in place of injured Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa, converted Yuto Nagatomo’s low cross in the 20th minute to put Japan ahead.

Ahmed Kano’s deflected free-kick 13 minutes from time made it 1-1 but Okazaki bobbed up in the right place after Gotoku Sakai’s delivery had fallen into his path.

Uzbekistan moved top of Group A on eight points thanks to a 1-0 win over previous leaders Iran in Tehran.

In a tightly contested group, Uzbekistan are now at the summit after back-to-back wins, ahead of Iran, South Korea and Qatar, who are all on seven points.

After a goalless first half, Ulugbek Bakayev scored the winner at Azadi Stadium in the 71st minute.

Iraq revived their flailing campaign with a much-needed 1-0 win against Jordan in Doha courtesy of Ahmed Hammadi’s blistering shot from outside the area four minutes from full-time.

Iraq are now on five points in Group B after their first win of the qualifying campaign.

World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar are fourth in Group A after a 1-0 win over Lebanon at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.

Uruguayan-born Sebastian Soria proved the difference with his stunning long-range effort 15 minutes from the end all that separated the sides.

Australia and South Korea were the only two countries not in qualifying action on Wednesday with the sides playing a friendly in Hwaseong, which Australian went on to win 2-1.

Both have a game in hand on their respective group rivals.



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