South Korea close to qualifying for FIFA World Cup after Cho beats Lebanon | Soccer News

HONG KONG (Reuters) – South Korea are on course to qualify for November’s World Cup final in Qatar on Thursday as Cho Gue-sung’s goal gave Paulo Bento’s side a win. win 1-0 against Lebanon in Sidon.
The Koreans, who are missing injured duo Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan, had to work for a win that takes them to 17 points from seven games in Asia’s Group A preliminaries.
The points tally means the Koreans will be confirmed as World Cup qualifiers if the United Arab Emirates do not beat Syria when they meet in Dubai later on Thursday and are at least certain of a place in the qualifiers.
Cho scored the game’s only goal when he latched onto Hwang Ui-jo’s low curling cross from the left, with the striker heading the ball home from close range.
Lebanon were far from dominated, however, with brothers Alexander and Felix Melki both hitting the woodwork for Ivan Hasek’s side.
In Group B, Australia beat Vietnam 4-0 in Melbourne but remain third in the standings after second-placed Japan beat a poor Chinese side 2-0 at Saitama Stadium.
The Socceroos took a two-goal lead in the interval thanks to a header from Jamie Maclaren and a deft finish from Tom Rogic before the Vietnamese battled to find a way back into the game in the second half.
But a 72nd-minute lobbed effort from Craig Goodwin and Riley McGree’s long shot secured the points, even with coach Graham Arnold forced to watch from solitary confinement after a positive COVID-19 test.
“I couldn’t be happier with the energy,” assistant coach Rene Meulensteen said. “We knew it would be a challenge because that’s international football.”
Japan retained second place with a win over a Chinese side that saw their hopes of a playoff berth all but extinguished.
Yuya Osako gave the Japanese the lead in the 13th minute from the penalty spot, leaving goalkeeper Yan Junling little chance of a firm effort after Junya Ito’s cross was handled by Wang Shenchao.
Japan have rarely been troubled by a Chinese side led by new coach Li Xiaopeng for the first time, with the visitors struggling to gain possession outside their own half.
Ito added a deserved second goal in the 61st minute when he met substitute Yuta Nakayama’s precise cross from the left with a header that flew into the bottom corner.
Only the top two nations from each of the two Asian groups are guaranteed to qualify for the World Cup, with the third-placed competing in the playoffs for the right to meet a South American team for a possible Asian fifth-place finish in Qatar.

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