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November 16, 2009

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China stays on course in Asia

CHINA won 2-0 in Lebanon on Saturday to put itself in a good position in Group D of its 2011 Asian Cup qualifying group.

A goal in each half, from Yu Hai before the break and Qu Bo after in Beirut, put China in second place with six points from three games.

Syria is top with nine and Vietnam is in third place with three. Lebanon is still searching for its first point and is out of the running.

Elsewhere, Uzbekistan cruised home but Iran, Australia and Syria had to scrap as all four moved within touching distance of the finals.

Australia looked in danger of a second defeat when defender Rhys Williams was sent off and then Khalifa Ayil gave Oman a first-half lead. The Socceroos, though, fought back to win 2-1 and go top of Group B with seven points from four games.

Goals from Luke Wilkshire and Brett Emerton, eight minutes from time, saw off Oman (four points). Second-placed Kuwait (six) edged out bottom team Indonesia 2-1.

The top two in the group qualify for the finals in Qatar.

Triple champion Iran needed a 73rd-minute header from Osasuna midfielder Javad Nekonam to defeat Jordan 1-0 in Tehran.

Iran is first in Group E with seven points from three matches, two clear of Thailand, which won 3-1 in Singapore to give new coach Bryan Robson victory.

Group D leader Syria also had to fight hard for victory with substitute Raja Rafe proving a late match winner.

The striker headed the only goal in the 94th-minute from a Firas al-Khatib free kick to beat Vietnam and preserve Syria's 100 percent start.

Uzbekistan moved top of Group C with six points after shrugging off a five-game scoreless run to record a comfortable 3-1 home win over Malaysia.


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