AFC 2014 World Cup qualifying recap: Comfortable wins for the favorites

Atsushi Tomura

Iraq was eliminated from World Cup qualifying on Tuesday while Australia, South Korea and Iran all moved closer to potentially solidifying spots.

South Korea is now just a point from earning a return to the World Cup while Australia controls its own destiny following an emphatic win on Tuesday. Iran helped its chances of getting to Brazil as well, while Japan further asserted its dominance over Asian qualifying despite having already sealed a World Cup position.

Iraq 0-1 Japan

Iraqi forward Alaa Abdul-Zehra was sent off for a high boot that drew a second yellow card in the 82nd minute, and given the number of risky challenges he made during the match, he was lucky to stay on the pitch that long. Japan scored their winner in the 89th minute on a brilliantly executed counter, with Shinji Okazaki finding Yasuhito Endo, squared a return pass for Okazaki to finish off. With their loss, Iraq was eliminated from qualifying.

South Korea 1-0 Uzbekistan

South Korea made things hard on itself by getting into a situation where the team needed a win over Uzbekistan to feel comfortable going into the final day, but they grabbed three points to move themselves clear at the top of Group A. Their winner came at the end of the first half on a comically bad own goal by Akmal Shorakhmedov. After Uzbekistan cleared a corner kick away, South Korea sent the ball back into the box. With no red shirts around him, Shorakhmedov should have had a simple clearance, but instead powered a header past his own goalkeeper as if he was aiming to score.

Australia 4-0 Jordan

Back in September, Jordan not only beat Australia, it seriously outplayed them. Things were a bit different on the Aussies' home turf on Tuesday. Mark Bresciano scored a tap-in off a brilliant run and cross by Robbie Kruse in the 15th minute and Jordan couldn't recover. Once they started to get more aggressive and opened up at the back, things got ugly fast. Tim Cahill, Kruse and Lucas Neill all scored in the final half-hour.

Iran 4-0 Lebanon

While Iran is still in some trouble -- they have to go away to South Korea on the final day, where it would be surprising to see them get any points -- they're up into second place in Group B after this dominant performance, while Lebanon has been eliminated from qualifying. Iran is one point behind South Korea and two ahead of Uzbekistan with four more goals than the Uzbeks, so a draw in South Korea should see Iran qualify for the World Cup directly.

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