Soccer-Iran’s Mehdi Taremi Scores Hat Trick in Asia World Cup Qualifiers


By Michael Church


 – South Korea confirmed their place in the next round of Asia’s World Cup qualifiers with a 7-0 thrashing of hosts Singapore on Thursday while debutant Behram Abduweli kept China’s hopes on track with a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Thailand.

Saudi Arabia’s 3-0 win over Pakistan put them through to the third phase of the preliminaries along with Oman, Palestine, Bahrain and Jordan.

The top two in each of the nine qualification groups advance to the next phase in the quest for one of Asia’s eight guaranteed berths at the 48-team World Cup in Mexico, the United States and Canada.

Lee Kang-in gave the Koreans the lead in Singapore with a rising shot in the ninth minute before Joo Min-kyu’s header doubled the advantage.

Captain Son Heung-min scored twice after the interval, either side of a second for Lee while Bae Jun-ho and Hwang Hee-chan were also on target as the Koreans wrapped up top spot in Group Cahead of China and Thailand.

China’s Abduweli scored a late equaliser in Shenyang to boost his nation’s prospects of a place in the next round with Branko Ivankovic’s side picking up a precious point despite Fei Nanduo’s 51st-minute penalty miss.

Supachok Sarachat put the Thais ahead with a 20th minute header but Abduweli swept a shot past Saranon Anuin with 11 minutes left to keep China in second, three points ahead of Thailand with one game remaining.

THIRD ROUND

Oman advanced from Group D after Kyrgyzstan were held to a 1-1 draw by Malaysia in Bishkek, meaning the Gulf side’s 3-0 win earlier in the day over Taiwan took them into the third round.

Palestine qualified as a 0-0 draw with Lebanon secured second place in Group I behind Australia who maintained their perfect qualifying record with a 2-0 win over Bangladesh.

Firas Al-Buraikan scored twice for Saudi Arabia, who advanced thanks to a 3-0 win over Pakistan with Roberto Mancini’s side joined in the next round from Group G by Jordan, who beat Tajikistan 3-0.

Bahrain’s 0-0 draw with Yemen, meanwhile, confirmed their second-place finish in Group H behind the United Arab Emirates.

In Hanoi, Vietnam kept their hopes of advancing alive with a 3-2 win over the Philippines in Group F to move to within a point of Indonesia, who slipped to a 2-0 loss against Iraq.

Already-qualified Japan maintained their unblemished record in Group B as Koki Ogawa scored twice in a 5-0 win in Yangon over Myanmar with North Korea only one point behind second placed Syria.

FILE PHOTO: Mehdi Taremi. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

Jong Il Gwan’s 92nd-minute winner gave Hector Cuper’s team a 1-0 defeat in neutral Vientiane ahead of their final group games on Tuesday against Myanmar and Japan.

Mehdi Taremi scored a hat-trick in Iran’s 4-2 success against Hong Kong in Group E while Uzbekistan kept pace at the top of the standings with a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan. Iran and Uzbekistan had already confirmed their spots in the next phase.

Afghanistan claimed a surprise 0-0 draw with Asian champions Qatar to stay level in Group A with India, who drew 0-0 with Kuwait to leave only one point separating the three teams behind the group-winning Qataris.


(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)


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