Son hurts Qatar with injury time winner

SEOUL — Substitute Son Heung-min prodded home a 96th minute winner to give South Korea a precious 2-1 win over Qatar in Seoul on Tuesday and put them in sight of another World Cup finals appearance.

By (Agencies)

Published: Thu 28 Mar 2013, 12:27 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:47 AM

The 20-year-old striker was in the right place at the right time to complete the easiest of finishes after a looped shot from fellow replacement Lee Dong-gook hit the crossbar and fell away from Qatari goalkeeper Qasem Burhan. The three points took South Korea top of the five team Group A on 10 points from five matches, two ahead of Uzbekistan who host bottom side Lebanon (four points) at 1300 GMT.

With just two teams from each of the two Asian groups guaranteed a place in Brazil, Qatar’s heartbreaking loss leaves them facing an outside chance of reaching a first finals as they sit on seven points from six games, level with Iran but having played a game more. The third place finishers can also book a berth if they win through two playoff rounds against another Asian side and a South America team.

But the Koreans are unlikely to require that route after a rousing final 30 minutes in Seoul on Tuesday which followed a drab first half where the Qataris affectively strangled the life out of the contest.

Poor composure by the home side in the final third was also to blame for the early stalemate with Korean coach Choi Kang-hee turning to his bench early in the second period and the introduction of Lee Dong-gook changed the game.

The more direct approach following the arrival of the 33-year-old forward led to the opening goal with a floated ball into the penalty area expertly flicked home by Lee Keun-ho on the hour mark. The reigning Asian Player-of-the-Year, currently completing his military service at home, was afforded some rare space to loop his header over the despairing dive of Qatari goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.

The celebrations that followed perhaps went on too long, though, as Qatar made a rare foray forward into the Koreans half three minutes later and Khalfan Ibrahim was afforded too much room on the edge of the area to toe poke a cheeky effort in at the near post.

Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong, left unemployed for most the match, will feel he could have done better with the playmaker’s effort having got a hand to the low strike. With the Qataris holding firm despite the huge waves of Korean pressure, coach Choi turned to his bench again to introduce Son for the final minutes, much to the pleasure of the home fans, and the poster boy came up with the goods in a dramatic finale. Qatar next play their penultimate pool qualifier at home to Iran in June, while South Korea travel to Lebanon.

Japan stunned

Japan wasted a second half penalty as they blew the chance to become the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals when they were humbled 2-1 by Jordan in a pulsating clash in Amman on Tuesday.

The Japanese dominated possession and created numerous chances but the West Asians secured a memorable win thanks to some resolute defending and efficient finishing.

After Japan had peppered their goal for most of the first half, Jordan grabbed a shock lead just before halftime when Khalil Bani Ateyah beat Shinji Okazaki to head home Amer Deeb’s inswinging corner to leave the King Abdullah Stadium rocking.

Jordan, who beat Australia 2-1 at home in September, then extended the advantage thanks to a brilliant solo effort by Ahmad Ibrahim in the 60th minute.

Shinji Kagawa pulled one back in the 69th minute and Japan could have grabbed the point they needed to qualify moments later when they were awarded a penalty.

However, experienced midfielder Yasuhito Endo saw his spot kick expertly turned around the post by Amer Sabbah.

The result leaves Japan top of Group B with 13 points from six matches with Jordan now occupying the second finals berth as they moved on to seven points from six matches.

Oz drop points

Brett Holman helped Australia keep their World Cup qualifying hopes alive with a late long-range goal that ensured a 2-2 draw and denied a fighting Oman an upset victory in Sydney on Tuesday.

The Omanis, ranked 66 places below the Australians, looked set for a shock win with a 2-0 lead and 40 minutes left only for Tim Cahill and Holman to help salvage a point with goals.

Holman, who has been little used by English Premier League strugglers Aston Villa this season, saved Australia from a humiliating home defeat. — Agencies

when he unleashed a fierce long-range volley with five minutes left of normal time.

But the Australians will rue missing out on two crucial points as they bid for their third straight World Cup finals appearance in Brazil next year. The Socceroos have just one win and six points from five qualifying games, and must at least maintain their number two spot in group B with three games in hand.

Oman meanwhile move ahead of Iraq and Jordan into third place with two games to go. The Omanis, ranked 105th, rocked Australia with a goal from virtually their first attack in the sixth minute.

Amad Al-Hosni played in Abdulaziz Al-Miqbali, who got the better of defender Michael Thwaite and beat goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from a tight angle with his left-foot drive. It was Al-Miqbali’s fourth goal in his 14th international and gave Oman a psychological boost against the flat Australians, missing suspended skipper Lucas Neill.

For much of the opening 45 minutes goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who plays for Wigan Athletic in the English Premier League, had little to do except defusing a shot from Holman. Defender Saad Al-Mukhaini picked up the first yellow card of the match for his challenge on Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Robbie Kruse in the 35th minute.

Giant defender Robert Cornthwaite also went into the referee’s book with a rugged challenge on the goalscorer Al-Miqbali minutes after the resumption. — Agencies

But the night turned worse for the Australians when Crystal Palace midfielder Mile Jedinak conceded an own goal in the 49th minute from an innocuous cross from Raed Ibrahim.

Two goals down, Australia hit back through talisman Cahill with his 27th international goal three minutes later.

Cahill outjumped Al-Mukhaini to head home Luke Wilkshire’s corner to recharge the Australians from their lethargy.

It was Cahill again who forced Al-Habsi into a flying save to beat away his bullet header off another corner with 16 minutes left.

Marco Bresciano only lasted 20 minutes as a substitute before he injured his knee in a jarring tackle and was replaced by Dutch-based wide man Tommy Oar in the 76th minute.

Cahill had another headed chance off a corner, but it bounced over the bar to Oman’s relief.

Holman threw the desperate Australians a lifeline when he unleashed a fierce drive outside the area to beat Al-Habsi with five minutes of normal time left.

Cahill also pinched it for Australia deep in injury time with a header that Al-Habsi got down well to beat away.

More news from Football