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Jun 18, 2013

Three more book place in Brazil

Australia qualified for the World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Iraq in Sydney

Australia, Iran and South Korea became the latest nations to book their places at the 2014 World Cup after Tuesday's final group games in Asia.

Australia secured a place at the World Cup finals for the third successive occasion with a 1-0 win over Iraq on Tuesday.

Australia knew that anything other than victory in Sydney would open the door for Oman to overtake them in second place, and for long periods of the game the Socceroos looked toothless up front.

After Australia wasted good opportunities in the first half, Iraq goalkeeper Noor Sabri had little to do after the break.

Coach Holger Osieck decided to take off talismanic midfielder Tim Cahill with 13 minutes left on the clock, much to the amazement of the supporters and the player himself. But the gamble paid off as Josh Kennedy, who replaced Cahill, rose unmarked to head home the winner in the 83rd minute.

Kennedy's goal sent Stadium Australia into raptures and after a tense injury-time period was survived the celebrations began and thoughts turned to Brazil next year.

Australia join Japan at the World Cup from Group B. In the final game in the group, Jordan won 1-0 against Oman, meaning they qualify for a play-off place.

In Group A, Iran pulled off a shock win away in South Korea, which meant Uzbekistan's big win at home to Qatar was still not enough to secure a place at the finals.

South Korea knew they were almost certain through no matter what happened on Tuesday, but they were made to sweat after losing 1-0 to Iran in Ulsan.

Reza Ghoochannejhad scored the only goal of the game just before the hour mark, but Iran had to be thankful to a fine double save from Rahman Ahmadi late in the day to preserve their victory.

Uzbekistan's initial task against Qatar was to win and then hope Iran were beaten by South Korea. But it started badly in Tashkent with Abdulgadir Bakur put the visitors in front on 37 minutes to make the task even harder.

And after Iran took the lead it became about scoring as many as possible, as well as winning, and Bahodyr Nasimov got the ball rolling in the 60th minute with the equaliser.

Oleg Zoteev, another from Nasimov plus goals from Odil Ahmedov and Ulughbek Bakaev at the death rounded off a 5-1 win but it would not be enough. Uzbekistan needed to win 7-1 to overhaul South Korea on goal difference - though if the Korean's had coverted one of their late chances to force a draw then the Uzbeks would have headed Iran for second on goals scored.

Uzbekistan will now meet Jordan in the Asian qualifying play-off, the winner of which will then play the nation which finishes fifth in South America for a place at the World Cup.

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