Australia, Uzbekistan, Oman win WCup qualifiers
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Australia scored twice late on to beat Iraq 2-1 and revive its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign Tuesday, while 10-man Iran beat South Korea 1-0 to move level on points with the Koreans in Group A.
Uzbekistan and Oman also earned much-needed victories. Uzbekistan downed 2022 World Cup host Qatar 1-0 and Oman beat Jordan 2-1.
In Doha, Iraq scored against the run of the play from a counterattack when Younis Mahmoud crossed for substitute Ala'a Abdulzehra to slot the ball past goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the 72nd minute.
Australia leveled when Tim Cahill rose above the defense eight minutes later to head the ball into the net from a corner. With a draw looking likely, Australia substitute Tom Oar crossed the ball into the box for unmarked substitute Archie Thompson to head home the 84th-minute winner.
"I'm really happy with the result as we managed to make a good comeback and got three points, which will put us back into contention,'' Australia coach Holger Osieck said. "The result proved that we can make it as the win against Iraq was important. We were lucky even though it only came in the closing minutes. We managed to score from the chances that we had unlike the last match against Jordan.''
In Group B, Japan remains top with 10 points followed by Australia and Oman with five. Jordan has four points and Iraq is bottom with two.
"Our situation has become now very delicate as we are now in the last position in the group,'' Iraq coach Zico said. "However, there are still four matches to play and hopefully we can get back into competition in the remaining matches, although it will not be easy.''
In Tehran, Iran captain Javad Nekounam's sent the 100,000 home fans into raptures when he scored a late winning goal.
Nekounam received the ball following a deflection from a free kick and slotted it into the net in the 75th minute. His goal came 20 minutes after Iran midfielder Masoud Shojaei was sent off after picking up his second yellow card.
The match started promisingly for the Iranians, with Reza Ghoochannejhad hitting a low drive from the edge of the box that forced goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong into a good save in the 20th minute.
But South Korea began to take charge of the match after a dead-ball delivery from Ki Sung-yueng caused problems for the Iranian defense. The midfielder swung in a free kick from the left that was headed over the crossbar in the 26th by an unmarked Kim Shin-wook.
Shortly afterward, Ki delivered a free kick from the other flank that caused confusion in the defense, ending with Kim Bo-kyung's header being touched onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Mehdi Rahmati in the 29th.
After taking the lead, the Iranians weathered a flurry of shots from the South Koreans. The Koreans' best chance for an equalizer fell to Yun Suk-young, who curled the ball from outside the area just over the crossbar with five minutes remaining.
South Korea and Iran each have seven points in Group A, though the Koreans are ahead on goal difference. Uzbekistan is next with five points, followed by Qatar and Lebanon with four.
Uzbekistan earned its first win of the campaign when midfielder Sanjar Tursunov scored in the 13th minute after being fed a cross by Ulugbek Bakaev from the right flank.
Qatar pressed for the equalizer, with Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov parrying Muhammed Mubarak's long-range shot. Qatar captain Wesam Rizik had a good chance in the 23rd but his shot went over the bar. Qatar's best second-half chance came when striker Sebastian Soria's header just missed the mark.
"It's good to win. But we only have five points now,'' said Uzbekistan coach Kasimov Mirdjalal, who replaced Vadim Abramov after the loss to Iran in its first qualifying match.
Qatar's Brazilian coach, Paulo Autuori, said he would encourage his players to concentrate on its match next month against Lebanon.
"Honestly speaking, Uzbekistan has a good team full of experienced players,'' Autuori said. "Football is like this. You win some, you lose some. They tried their best. From this moment, we should try to forget about this game and concentrate on the next. I'll try to cheer the players hard so that they get ready for the next match.''
Players received a taste of what it will be like to play in hot and humid conditions should there be a summer world cup in 2022. Even with temperatures at a relatively comfortable low 30s Celsius, the referee stopped the match in the first half so players could have a water break.
In Muscat, goals from Ahmed Mubarak Obaid and Juma Darwish helped Oman earn its first victory and move off the bottom of Group B table.
After a scoreless first half in which Oman dominated, Saad Suhail sent a cross in that landed near Obaid, who broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute. Darwish doubled the lead in the 82nd after he received a cross from the right and tapped the ball into the net. Jordan's Thaer al-Bawab pulled a goal back in the 90th.
The win was unexpected as the home side has struggled in qualifying; until the Jordan match it was bottom of Group B. Jordan, by contrast, was a surprise second and coming off an upset win over Australia.
"It was a tough match and I am happy,'' Oman coach Paul Le Guen said. "The win means a lot as it keeps us in the race for a berth in Brazil.''
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