Wednesday 12 September 2012
Fulham's Mark Schwarzer and Aston Villa midfielder Brett Holman suffered a shock 2-1 defeat for Australia against Jordan last night that threatened the Socceroos' chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
The defeat in Amman left Australia with only two points from three matches in Group B and they were overtaken by Jordan, who have four points. Both trail Japan, whose ten points from a match more after they ground out a 1-0 victory over Iraq makes them clear favourites for an early qualification.
Southampton's new defensive signing Maya Yoshida was on hand to help Japan to record a clean sheet in Saitama and maintain their unbeaten record but Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa was forced to withdraw before the match with a reported back injury.
"I felt a twinge and didn't want to take the risk," said Kagawa, who watched the match from the stands. "It's not a serious injury and I don't think it will keep me out for long. I can walk without any problem but if I put strain on it it still hurts."
In Group A South Korea extended their lead to three points despite being held to a 2-2 draw with Uzbekistan in Tashkent. Swansea City's new signing Ki-Sung yeung made an unfortunate start to the match when he turned the ball into his own net on 13 minutes but he helped the visitors get level shortly before half-time with the corner from which Kwak Tae Hwi equalised.
Choi Kang Hee's side took the lead on 57 minutes through former Middlesbrough player Lee Dong Gook, but the hosts were level within two minutes thanks to Sanjar Tursunov's strike, and despite the best efforts of second-half substitute Park Chu-young, the Arsenal forward who is on loan at Celta Vigo, the leaders, who have seven points from three matches, had to make do with a share of the spoils.
The draw proved a positive result for South Korea as Iran passed up the chance to join them at the group summit after a 1-0 defeat by Lebanon.
The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for the World Cup finals with the third-placed teams in each group facing each other to play off against the fifth-placed South American side.
In Oceania qualifying, New Zealand fielded three players from the English top flight in their 6-1 rout of the Solomon Islands in Auckland.
Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United defenders Ryan Nelsen and Winston Reid started in defence for the All Whites as they followed up their 2-0 victory in Noumea at the weekend to go top of their group.
West Bromwich Albion forward Chris Wood replaced Nelsen during the second half and was on the scoresheet again, having netted against the Solomon Islands on Saturday.
The winner of the four-nation Oceania group will play against the fourth-placed CONCACAF country for a place at the World Cup.