WORLD CUP 2018
Japan fall to UAE as South Korea resist China comeback
Japan were left to rue a refereeing howler as they fell a 2-1 home defeat to UAE in their opening World Cup qualifying final round today.
Japan 1-2 UAE
Japan were left to rue a refereeing howler as they crashed to a 2-1 home defeat to United Arab Emirates in a poor start to their World Cup qualifying final round today.
AC Milan's Keisuke Honda nodded the hosts in front in Saitama but UAE grabbed all the points after Ahmed Khalil's sumptuous free kick and penalty either side of half-time.
Japan should have finished the game 2-2 but the officials failed to spot that Takuma Asano's shot, clawed away by Khalid Eisa, had crossed the line, as shown by TV replays. Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim waved away Japan's protests as the Blue Samurai crashed once again to UAE, their conquerors in last year's Asian Cup quarter-finals.
Australia 2-0 Iraq
Massimo Luongo and Tomi Juric were both on target as Australia overcame a dogged Iraq outfit to win 2-0 in their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Perth earlier today.
The home side were strong favourites but they didn't have it all their own way until QPR's Luongo and FC Luzern striker Juric scored in a seven-minute, second-half burst.
"It was a great way to come back today," said Juric, who was recalled by coach Ange Postecoglou after missing Australia's friendly defeat against Greece in June.
"There definitely could have been a few more (goals) on our side, but it is a great result to start this campaign."
South Korea 3-2 China
Zheng Zhi's early own goal ultimately condemned China to a 3-2 defeat to South Korea on Thursday despite a spirited fight-back in their 2018 World Cup qualifier.
China's talisman became their fall-guy as he inadvertently bundled Son Heung-Min's free kick into his own net on 20 minutes at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Lee Chung-Yong and Koo Ja-Cheol both scored to pile on the pain for China but the visitors nearly hauled their way back into it following late strikes from Yu Hai and Hao Junmin.
However, a precious equalizer eluded Gao Hongbo's men and they start with a defeat as they embark on the year-long final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
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