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November 18, 2015

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China WCup hopes take a hit in Hong Kong

CHINA’S hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup were dealt a huge blow last night as it was held to a 0-0 draw in Hong Kong in a tense Group C encounter.

The result means that China, looking to add to its only appearance at the tournament in 2002, is now seven points behind group leader Qatar and three adrift of Hong Kong in second with two games remaining in the second round of qualification.

Only the eight group winners and four best second-place teams will progress to the last stage of Asia’s road to Russia.

China hit the woodwork twice and had a goal controversially disallowed but just could not find a way past a resolute Hong Kong backline. Now the world’s most populous nation, currently in third place in the group, has to win its remaining two games in a bid to become one of the four best runners-up.

That result enabled Qatar to confirm top spot and a place in the final stage with a 3-0 win, a sixth successive victory, over Bhutan.

Elsewhere, Asia’s major powers all recorded comfortable victories.

A first-half Tim Cahill hat-trick helped Australia to a 4-0 win over Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Despite arriving in Bangladesh the day before the game due to security concerns, it was an easy win for the Socceroos against a team it defeated 5-0 in Perth in September.

Shanghai Shenhua striker Cahill opened the scoring after just six minutes and the former Everton star completed his three-goal haul 31 minutes later. There was still time before the break for Mile Jedinak of Crystal Palace to add a fourth.

The three goals took Cahill’s record Socceroos’ goal tally to 45. He also scored in the team’s 3-0 win against Kyrgyzstan in Canberra last Thursday.

Australia now has 15 points from six games in Group B.

South Korea made it six wins in six. Two goals each for Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City’s Ki Sung-yeung, helped the Taeguk Warriors to a 5-0 win over Laos while Japan won 2-0 in Cambodia.

Despite missing captain Andranik Teymourian and three other players reportedly due to visa issues, Iran thrashed Guam 6-0.

Media reports in Tehran said some players and staff were unable to enter Guam, but Carlos Queiroz’s Iran squad had few difficulties on the field.

Mehdi Taremi opened the scoring after 12 minutes and Iran, aiming to reach a fifth World Cup, dominated throughout the game to move three points ahead of Oman in the group. Oman was hosting India later.

Elsewhere, North Korea defeated Bahrain 2-0, Saudi Arabia thrashed East Timor 10-0, Syria won 2-1 in Singapore and Iraq won 2-0 in Chinese Taipei.


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