Japan quick strike beats North Korea; South Korea held by Thailand in Asia qualifying

Thu, Mar 21, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Japan quick strike beats North Korea; South Korea held by Thailand in Asia qualifying

TOKYO (AP) - Japan scored after just 90 seconds and held out North Korea to win 1-0 on Thursday and maintain its perfect start in the second round of Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup.

Ao Tanaka's strike at the National Stadium gave the host three wins from three Group B games.

The midfielder fired home from inside a crowded penalty area after a Ritsu Doan pullback.

North Korea, cheered on by a small pocket of red-shirted fans, lacked attacking power to get back in the game. With just three points from the first three group games, North Korea needs a result on Tuesday against the same opponent in Pyongyang.

"We wanted to give our fans a good result and we are sorry we could not but it was a good game," North Korea coach Sin Yong Nam said.

South Korea was held by Thailand to 1-1 in Seoul in its first game since Jurgen Klinsmann was fired as the coach in February.

Son Heung-min put South Korea ahead after 42 minutes with a shot from close range. Just after an hour, Suphanat Mueanta leveled.

Despite dropping two points, South Korea remained on top of Group C.

Australia has won all three of its Group I games after defeating Lebanon 2-0 in Sydney.

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Keanu Baccus opened the scoring after just five minutes and Kye Rowles added the second shortly after the restart.

In Jordan's first action since losing the Asian Cup final to Qatar in February, it beat Pakistan 3-0.

The top two teams from each of the nine groups will advance to the final round. Asia's automatic allocation at the World Cup has increased from four to eight.

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