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Australia, Japan and South Korea well set for South Africa
by Ian Plenderleith, November 20th, 2008 6:45AM
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[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING] Australia, Japan and South Korea all took a huge step towards qualifying for South Africa 2010 by posting important road wins in Wednesday's fourth round of group games in Asia's final qualifying phase. In the other game, Iran picked up a useful point at the united Arab Emirates.
 
GROUP ONE
Australia scored in stoppage time in Bahrain when a Marco Bresciano goal against the run of play gave the visitors a 1-0 victory. Australian coach Pim Verbeek admitted that his side was lucky to take all the points and preserve its 100 percent record in the group.
 
"Bahrain played very well and we didn't but we were lucky to get these three points," said Verbeek. "We didn't deserve it. We would have been happy with one point. It was a top game but we never really had any control over this game."
 
Bahrain's Czech coach Milan Macala called it "a good game. But the most important thing in soccer is scoring goals. We did not score while the Australians did. We had five to seven good moments to score. I really cannot explain what happened in the last two minutes. We played with very good spirit but without luck."
 
In the group's other game, Japan made light work of host Qatar in a 3-0 win on goals from Tatsuya Tanaka, Keiji Tamada and Marcus Tulio Tanaka. The results put Australia and Japan well clear of third-placed Qatar, which has played one game more than the other four teams in the group.
 
SCOREBOARD
Bahrain 0 Australia 1
Qatar 0 Japan 3
Standings: Australia (9 points), Japan (7), Qatar (4), Bahrain (1), Uzbekistan (1)
 
GROUP TWO
South Korea beat Saudi Arabia for the first time in 19 years to go two points clear at the top of Group Two. The Koreans won, 2-0, in Riyadh thanks to late goals from Lee Keun Ho and Park Chu Young, and created the majority of the clear-cut chances in a very poor game.
 
The game's turning point, however, came in the 58th minute when Saudi striker Naif Hazazi was given a second yellow card for diving. Hazazi was through on goal when he took the ball to the left of Korean keeper Lee Woon Jae, who clipped Hazazi's heel as he went past. It was a tough call for the referee Abdul Malik Bashir -- Hazazi looked as though he was already going down before Lee made contact, but replays showed that he was definitely tripped. Instead of being awarded a penalty that could have out it 1-0 ahead, the home team was suddenly down to 10 men with the scores still level.
 
In the group's other game, Karim Bagheri scored an equalizer for Iran in the 81st minute, after Abdulraheem Jumaa had given the UAE a first-half lead. It was the UAE's first point in the four games it has played so far, while unbeaten South Korea and Iran occupy the group's top two spots.
 
SCOREBOARD
United Arab Emirates 1 Iran 1
Saudi Arabia 0 South Korea 2
Standings: South Korea (7 points), Iran (5), Saudi Arabia (4), North Korea (4), United Arab Emirates (1).
 
Format: The top two teams from each group will qualify directly for South Africa 2010. The third-placed teams from each group will play a home-and-away playoff, with the winner advancing to the inter-confederation playoff with Oceania winner New Zealand.
 
[INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES] Diego Maradona won his first game in charge of Argentina, a 1-0 exhibition win in Scotland. England beat Germany 2-1 in Berlin thanks to a flying header from captain John Terry.



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