China held by Qatar, Je­d­i­nak saves Aus­tralia

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Mar­cello Lippi’s dreams of tak­ing China to the next World Cup re­ceived a re­al­ity check yes­ter­day, while Asian cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia were made to sweat in a near-night­mare in Bangkok.

China’s 0-0 draw with Qatar did noth­ing to boost their dwin­dling hopes of reach­ing Rus­sia 2018, even af­ter World Cup-win­ning coach Lippi was ap­pointed last month.

Mile Je­d­i­nak scored twice from the spot as Aus­tralia came from be­hind to draw 2-2 with Thai­land, drop­ping out of Group B’s au­to­matic qual­i­fy­ing places as a re­sult.

Else­where Ja­pan eased the pres­sure on coach Vahid Halil­hodzic with a 2-1 win over Saudi Ara­bia, while South Korea needed Koo Ja-Cheol’s late win­ner to over­come Uzbek­istan 2-1.

Lippi ar­rived in China with great fan­fare-and re­port­edly, a huge pay cheque-but he was un­able to start with a win which would have lifted them off the bot­tom of Group A. The Ital­ian ad­mits ambitious China need a “mir­a­cle” to reach Rus­sia, which would be only their sec­ond World Cup af­ter their sole ap­pear­ance ended point­less and goal­less in 2002. China en­joyed more chances but they were un­able to find the break­through against 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, who re­main sec­ond from bot­tom and also un­likely to qual­ify for 2018.

In Bangkok, Teerasil Dangda’s dou­ble left Aus­tralia on the brink of a shock de­feat, be­fore Soc­ceroos cap­tain Je­d­i­nak scored his sec­ond penalty of the night on 65 min­utes.

The draw de­moted Aus­tralia from sec­ond to pro­vi­sional third in their group, a point be­hind Saudi Ara­bia and Ja­pan, with only the top two win­ning au­to­matic qual­i­fi­ca­tion for Rus­sia.

‘WE HAD TO STAY STRONG’

“I think to come away with less than three points here is a real shame, a big dis­ap­point­ment,” said As­ton Villa’s Je­d­i­nak. “We have to move for­ward, we need to as­sess what’s gone wrong here and try to rec­tify it quickly.” — AFP

— AFP

KUNMING: China’s Huang Bowen (L) and Zheng Zhi (R) com­pete for the ball with Qatar’s Ro­drigo Bar­bosa Taba (C) dur­ing their 2018 FIFA World Cup qual­i­fy­ing match in Kunming, in China’s Yun­nan province yes­ter­day.

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