Australia and Japan take stranglehold of group
Australia and Japan have taken a stranglehold of their 2010 World Cup qualifying – Round 4 group table, following the fourth game of the Asian qualifiers overnight.
Australia and Japan have taken a stranglehold of their 2010 World Cup qualifying - Round 4 group table, following the fourth game of the Asian qualifiers overnight.
In Group B, Korea Republic secured a valuable 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia away from home, to see them jump two clear of Iran, who needed a late equaliser against bottom placed side United Arab Emirates in Dubai.
The pair of Asian giants in Group A have opened up a fairly sizeable gap on Qatar, Bahrain and Uzbekistan and while they are still not over line in terms of qualification, both countries would be very pleased with the position they are in at the moment.
Australia remains the only country to win all of its matches so far, although they were rather fortunate to secure all three points against Bahrain in Manana. Mark Bresciano-s injury time winner secured victory for Australia, but it was totally against the run of play, with Bahrain having dominated for most of the match.
In Doha it was a different story, as Japan crushed Qatar 3-0 in a one-sided game. Tatsuya Tanaka opened the scoring after 19 minutes and continued to dominate for the rest of the half without adding to the tally. Two minutes into the second half, Keiji Tamada made it 2-0 and Marcus Tulio Tanaka added a third with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
The two results sets up a tantalising clash in February in Japan, where top spot in the group is on the line.
In Group B, four teams went into fourth round of games all level on four points, with UAE still without a single point.
UAE looked set to end their winless drought when they went ahead against Iran after 19 minutes thanks to a goal from Abdulraheem Jumaa. They should have extended their lead, but wasted some good opportunities before Iran skipper Karim Bagheri, as he has done so often, came up with a goal for his team 10 minutes from the end, to give them a share of the spoils.
In Riyadh, Korea Republic eased clear at the top, capitalising on the red card to Saudi striker Naif Hazazi in the 58th minute after he fell dramatically trying to earn a penalty and received a yellow card for simulation, his second caution of the game.
With 13 minutes remaining substitute lee Keun-ho scrambled the ball home, before Park Chu-young curled a superb shot home in injury time to give Korea Republic the valuable win in the tight group.
The qualifiers will recommence on Wednesday February 11, with the standout tie being Japan v Australia at the Yokohama International Stadium. Uzbekistan will play Bahrain at Pakhator Stadium in Tashkent, while in Group B, DPR Korea will host Saudi Arabia at the Kim II Sung Stadium and Iran will host Korea Republic at the Azadi Stadium in Teheran.