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October 16, 2019

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Koreas in silent tie, China also draws

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and South Korea played out a surreal 0-0 draw in front of an empty stadium and with no TV coverage as Australia smashed seven past Chinese Taipei and China was held goalless in the Philippines in Asian World Cup qualifying yesterday.

Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min captained South Korea for its first competitive men’s match in Pyongyang, but it was an odd affair with no fans or media at Kim Il Sung Stadium.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino was one of the few people in attendance for the rare game between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war.

He was one of the lucky ones — South Korean fans will be unable to see the game until the delegation returns from Pyongyang with a recording of the game on DVD.

On a busy night of qualifiers for Qatar 2022, Marcello Lippi’s China was also frustrated as it was held to a scoreless draw away to the Philippines.

The hosts had former English Premier League goalkeeper Neil Etheridge to thank for at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.

The 29-year-old, who missed the hosts’ first two qualifiers with injury, delivered a standout performance with several saves, including one in stoppage time from Hao Junmin’s strike. Captain Stephan Schrock led by example with a workmanlike display as the Azkals achieved their biggest result to date.

China had one final attempt to leave with a win, but the 91st-minute corner went straight into the hands of Etheridge to seal the draw and secure the first points for the Philippines against China in three matches.

Brazil-born Ai Kesen joined Espanyol striker Wu Lei in the line-up along with Yang Xu, but they were the only three strikers as Wei Shihao and Yang Liyu were cut from the 23-man squad announced by Lippi few hours before the kick-off.

The Philippines now sits third in Group A with one win, one draw and one defeat, while China is still unbeaten with two wins and a draw.

Team Dragon next plays Syria, its main group rival, on November14 in an away match while the Philippines will fly to Male to take on the Maldives.

There was more action elsewhere as Adam Taggart, Jackson Irvine and Harry Souttar scored two apiece in Australia’s 7-1 rout of Chinese Taipei.

Taggart scored twice in seven first-half minutes in Kaohsiung — his first goals for Australia in six years, after injury threatened to derail his career.

Chen Yi-wei pulled one back for the hosts before Irvine grabbed two goals of his own, the first from a half-volley and the second with a close-range header.

Souttar got the third Australian brace of the night, either side of Jamie Maclaren’s strike, to complete the demolition job.

Also, Japan’s Takumi Minamino scored twice and Takuma Asano got the other as the Samurai Blue defeated Tajikistan 3-0 in Dushanbe.

Iraq’s 4-0 mauling of Cambodia was highlighted by Amjad Attwan’s belter which flew 25 yards and into the top corner past goalkeeper Keo Soksela.

Southeast Asian champion Vietnam humbled Indonesia 3-1 away and Uzbekistan beat Singapore by the same scoreline, thanks to Eldor Shomurodov’s second-half double.

And Ekanit Panya’s far-post finish secured a 2-1 win for Thailand over the United Arab Emirates as it kept pace with Vietnam at the top of Group G.


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