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Nov 11, 2011

Oman stun Socceroos, Japan march on

Oman claimed a major World Cup qualifying scalp as they beat Group D leaders Australia 1-0 in Muscat on Friday.

The Socceroos had a 100% record going into the game having won all three previous qualifiers, including a 3-0 home victory over Oman, while the southwest Asian nation had yet to register a win.

Holger Osieck fielded a strong line-up , with the likes of Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, Harry Kewell, Brett Holman and Josh Kennedy all starting, but it was opposite number Paul Le Guen who was celebrating after Amad Al Hosni's 18th-minute goal fired the hosts to a valuable three points.

Oman's win, coupled with a 3-0 victory for Saudi Arabia at home to Thailand, means that Group D has been blown wide open.

Second-half goals from Naif Hazazi, Ahmed Al Fraidi and Mohammed Noor (pen) eased the Saudis home, enabling coach Frank Rijkaard to celebrate his first win of the third qualifying round.

The result leaves Saudi Arabia in second place, four points behind Australia and one ahead of both Oman and Thailand.

2011 Asian Cup winners Japan retained top spot in Group C after easing to a 4-0 victory over Tajikstan; the Blue Samurai have now scored 12 goals past Alimzhon Rafikov's side without reply in qualifying after last month's 8-0 rout.

Shinji Okazaki netted a second-half brace to take his 2014 World Cup qualifying tally up to five, while Yasuyuki Konno and Ryoichi Maeda also scored.

Both teams had to deal with a pitch devoid of grass in large areas in Dushanbe, with Japan struggling to assert their usual passing style on proceedings. But Alberto Zaccheroni's charges took the lead in the 36th minute when Konno grabbed his first international goal, when Kengo Nakamura's shot rebounded into his path.

Okazaki headed home Shinji Kagawa's cross to double the lead on 61 minutes before a Maeda goal and a second from Okazaki late on put the result beyond doubt.

In the other match in Group C, Uzbekistan ensured they will join Japan in the next round of qualifying after recording a narrow 1-0 win against North Korea.

The result means North Korea's hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup are officially over, making them the first team to have competed in the 2010 tournament to crash out of qualifying.

Timur Kapadze was Uzbekistan's match-winner, heading in Alexander Geynrikh's corner in the early stages of the second half, as Vadim Abramov's side stayed level on points on Japan with the pair still to play again in Toyota in the final group game.

Younis Mahmoud's dramatic stoppage-time winner gave Iraq's chances of advancing to the next stage of qualifying a massive boost as they beat China 1-0 in Doha.

With the match locked at 0-0, Mahmoud escaped the clutches of Xiang Sun in the 92nd-minute before smashing home from just inside the box. The result moves Iraq six points clear of third-place China in Group A.

The Lions of Mesopotamia are chasing group leaders Jordan, who maintained their 100% record as they overcame struggling Singapore 2-0 at the Amman International Stadium.

Ahmad Ibrahim broke the deadlock on 15 minutes before Amer Deeb doubled Jordan's lead in the 65th minute to wrap up the points. Singapore remain at the foot of the standings, without a point to their name.

Late goals from Lee Keun-Ho and Park Chu-Young gave South Korea a 2-0 win against United Arab Emirates in Dubai.

Lee finished from close range to break the UAE resistance on 88 minutes, with Arsenal striker Park pouncing to steer home Son Heung-Min's shot in the third minute of added time. The result moves Korea three points clear at the top of Group B after four games, with UAE rooted to the bottom.

In the other game in the group, Lebanon beat Kuwait 1-0 at the national stadium in Kuwait City to keep alive their hopes of qualification for World Cup 2014.

Mahmoud El Ali was on target for the visitors, producing a composed finish to chip the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper just shy of the hour mark. The win made it seven points from four games for Lebanon, who host group leaders South Korea on Tuesday.

Group E firmly remains a three-horse race after Qatar's 4-0 thrashing of pointless Indonesia. The 2022 World Cup hosts moved level on points with group leaders Iran thanks to goals from Muhammed Razark, Sebastian Soria and a brace from Khalfan Ibrahim.

Iran held onto top spot by the skin of their teeth after Mojtaba Jabbari struck a last-gasp equaliser against Bahrain. Bahrain striker Mohammed al-Ajmi had given the hosts a 1-0 lead on the stroke of half-time but just as it looked as though they would claim the victory, Jabbari pounced to leave Bahrain in third place in the group, three points behind Qatar and Iran.

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