West Asian duo maintain perfect run
Home advantage proved significant again on 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifying matchday 2, with all six home sides prevailing in their respective encounters on Friday. Notably, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates kept their perfect record intact, while Lebanon, China PR, Malaysia and Hong Kong reignited their hopes with a first win.
Uzbekistan, though, will enter Tuesday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifier in Lebanon on the back of a 2-1 loss in Abu Dhabi, while Qatar will also be looking to put their 1-0 defeat in Manama behind them heading to Korea Republic. Join FIFA.com as we detail some enthralling match-ups across the Asian continent.
China PR 1-0 Iraq
Substitute Yu Dabao's injury-time strike eased the worries of the home supporters, as well as under-fire coach Jose Antonio Camacho as China from Group C edged a ten-man Iraq to put their campaign back on track. The result ended the hosts' long nine year wait, with their last victory against the Iraqis being a 3-0 scoreline in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup quarter-finals.
Having lost four and drawn two of their past six meetings, the Chinese entered the game keen to seek revenge. And even the rainy conditions couldn't prevent them wreaking havoc with long passes into the penalty area, while Vladimir Petrovic's visitors looked to lone striker Younis Mahmoud on the break.
Iraq were reduced to ten men before half-time with Ali Adnan's dismissal, but despite the numerical advantage China failed to fashion out clear-cut opportunities. The drizzle turned to a downpour as the game intensified in the closing stages, with the hosts throwing everything forward for a breakthrough. And their efforts finally paid off when Yu came from nowhere to score the match-winner. The result moved China level on three points with Iraq, and also Saudi Arabia who take on hosts Indonesia today.
United Arab Emirates 2-1 Uzbekistan
2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying hopefuls Uzbekistan were dealt a blow heading into next Tuesday's home game against Lebanon, losing 2-1 to United Arab Emirates who continued their good run in Group E. Though UAE boasted a proud record of seven wins and just two defeats, it was the visitors that took the lead with Shohruh Gadoev latching onto a clearance to open the scoring. The home side rallied after the interval and went in front with a quickfire two-goal salvo. And on both occasions they were indebted to playmaker Amer Abdulrahman. He firstly set up Ahmed Khalil to draw level on the hour-mark, before perfectly passing for Ali Mabkhout to seal the victory with a header.
Hot on the west Asians’ heels are a plucky Hong Kong, who registered their first win by dispatching Vietnam at home. Captain Chan Wai Ho headed home the lone goal of the contest three minutes from time.
The other attractions
Despite conceding five unanswered goals against Iran in the opener, Lebanon opened their Group B account in style by thrashing Thailand 5-2 at home. Midfielder Hassan Chaito completed a brace and forward Mohamad Maida was also on target as the hosts took a comfortable 3-0 first-half lead. The visitors pulled one back shortly after the restart through substitute Thitiphan Puangjan, but Hassan Maatouk made up for a first-half penalty miss by restoring the hosts' three-goal advantage. Puangjan again reduced the deficit with five minutes remaining, but Abbas Ali Atwi struck in stoppage-time to hand the home side a resounding triumph.
In Group D, Bahrain emerged 1-0 victors against Qatar in a top-of-the-standing clash, courtesy of Faouzi Aaish's first-half strike. In the other match, substitute Mohamed Muhymeen was the hosts' hero as his late header secured Malaysia's 2-1 defeat of Yemen. Ayman Al Hagri put the visitors ahead after 12 minutes but Azamuddin Akil tapped in from close range on 27 minutes to draw level. With so much at stake, an unmarked Muhymeen got his head on to Norshahrul Idlan Talaha's cross to settle the contest.
Midfielder Amer Abdulrahman was instrumental in his nation’s comeback victory against Uzbekistan, living up to his growing status as one of Asia's emerging stars.
7 – The number of goals Lebanon have so far conceded, the second highest among all 20 contenders, yet the Cedars produced matchday 2’s biggest scoreline.
What they said
"Despite the defeat tonight, it is still early in the qualifiers and we still have a chance to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup. I don’t think that our players were affected by the focus on our next important match against Korea Republic in the World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday," Qatar coach Fahad Thani.
2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifying matchday 2 results:
Group A: Singapore-Oman, Syria-Jordan (rescheduled to 14/15 August)
Group B: Lebanon 5-2 Thailand, Kuwait-Iran (26 March)
Group C: China PR 1-0 Iraq, Indonesia-Saudi Arabia (23 March)
Group D: Malaysia 2-1 Yemen, Bahrain 1-0 Qatar
Group E: Hong Kong 1-0 Vietnam, United Arab Emirates 2-1 Uzbekistan