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AFC World Cup qualifying wrap: Saudis exit, Oman through

Oman progressed to the fourth round of AFC World Cup qualifying with a win over Thailand, while Australia edged Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia were leading Australia midway through the second half in Melbourne as they looked certain to clinch second spot in Group D.

But three goals in three second-half minutes saw Australia surge to a memorable 4-2 win at AAMI Park, sending them into the final stage of World Cup qualification on a massive high.

Australia looked set for their first defeat on home soil in almost three years when Saudi Arabia led 2-1 with just 17 minutes left.

But just as the visitors were dreaming of keeping their hopes of qualification for Brazil alive, Harry Kewell, Alex Brosque and Brett Emerton each scored to secure the points in emphatic fashion.

Brosque finished with a brace after initially cancelling out Salem Al Dawsari’s 19th-minute strike just before the break, only to see Nasser Al-Shamrani restore Saudi Arabia’s advantage moments later.

It meant Oman advanced after securing a hard-fought 2-0 win over Thailand at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Oman.

Hussain Al-Hadhri gave Paul Le Guen’s team a 10th-minute lead, before Oman sealed the win through Abdullah Al Muqbali’s powerful left-foot effort in stoppage time.

In Group A, a brace from Hao Junmin led China to a 3-1 win over Jordan.

Jordan were already assured a place in the next round of qualifying before their loss in Guangzhou, while Iraq take on Singapore later with the former having already progressed.

Elsewhere, Tajikistan secured their first point in Group C after a 1-1 draw at home to North Korea.

Akhtam Khamroqulov and Jang Song-Hyok exchanged goals as the bottom two sides finished their qualifying campaigns, with top two Japan and Uzbekistan still to play.

Wed 29 February, 2012
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