Five-goal Australia, Iraq advance in Asia World Cup qualifying

Hong Kong: Australia and Iraq were in rampant goalscoring form on Tuesday as they both cruised into the next stage of Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, while Son Heung-min's South Korea are on the brink of joining them after beating Thailand.

Australia handed out a 5-0 drubbing to Lebanon in Canberra in Group I while Iraq progressed from Group F after brushing aside the Philippines by the same score in Manila.

Iran, Asian champions Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also made sure of their places in the next round.

In Group C, Son scored as South Korea look favourites to go through after a 3-0 win against Thailand in Bangkok, while China got their qualifying hopes back on track with a 4-1 win against Singapore.

Park Jin-seob and Lee Jae-sung joined the Tottenham Hotspur star on the scoresheet and South Korea now need only a draw in Singapore in June to go through.

Australia's Craig Goodwin led his side to a fourth straight qualifying victory with two goals in a man-of-the-match performance, together with strikes from Kusini Yengi, John Iredale and an own goal.

"When I knew Craig Goodwin younger, he didn't believe in himself like he does these days," Australia coach Graham Arnold said of the 32-year-old, who also created the opener for Yengi and whose free-kick led to the own goal.

"He's a top-quality player, but he's a fantastic person and a great leader.

"His delivery, set pieces, is fantastic and his finishing, it's just got better and better as he gets older."

Palestine, their supporters in Gaza reeling from the Israel-Hamas war, gave themselves a great chance of going through with Australia by beating Bangladesh 1-0 in Dhaka.

Palestine just need a draw with third-placed Lebanon in their next match in June to guarantee their progress from Group I.

Aymen Hussein's 14th-minute penalty set Iraq on their way against the Philippines, ranked 139th in the world.

Amir Al Ammari's goal and a second from centre-forward Hussein gave the visitors a 3-0 half-time lead.

They completed the job with second-half strikes from Zidane Iqbal and Zaid Tahseen to make it four wins out of four in qualifying.

Indonesia beat Vietnam 3-0 in Hanoi in the group's other game.

Iran reached the next round with a 1-0 win over Turkmenistan in Ashgabat.

Mehdi Ghayedi headed in the only goal in first-half stoppage time from Mehdi Taremi's cross.

Iran top Group E with 10 points from four games, the same as fellow qualifiers Uzbekistan.

In Group G, 2034 World Cup hosts Saudi Arabia moved to the brink of qualification after drawing 1-1 in Tajikistan.

Firas Al Buraikan put the Saudis ahead in the 46th minute but Rustam Soirov's equaliser 10 minutes from time delayed the celebrations for Roberto Mancini's Gulf side.

Saudi Arabia have 10 points from four games with matches against Pakistan and Jordan to come in June.

Musa Al-Taamari's hat-trick lifted Jordan to second place with a 7-0 rout of Pakistan.

Qatar defeated Kuwait 2-1 thanks to a late double from Almoez Ali, staying comfortably top of Group A with four wins from four matches and with a place in the next round wrapped up.

In the same section, Afghanistan kept alive their chances of going through in second place with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over India.

China moved into second place in Group C behind South Korea after hammering Singapore 4-1 thanks to new captain Wu Lei's double, Fei Nanduo's second-half penalty and a late goal from Wei Shihao.

Wu took over the armband from Zhang Linpeng who was left out of the starting line-up by coach Branko Ivankovic.

Zhang had quit the national side after China threw away a two-goal lead in the 2-2 draw in Singapore last week, only to make an abrupt U-turn.

The UAE saw off Yemen 3-0 for a fourth win in four games in Group F and a spot in the next round where they are likely to be joined by Bahrain who defeated Nepal by the same scoreline.

Syria put seven past Myanmar with Omar Khrbin scoring a hat-trick to consolidate second spot in Group B, two points behind leaders Japan.

The top two from each of the nine Asian groups will advance to the third round of 2026 World Cup qualifying.

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