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Socceroos make history in Hanoi



Australia's defender Rhyan Grant (top) looks on as he scores during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying round Group B football match between Australia and Vietnam at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi. - AFP Photo

DOHA, Qatar (AFP) — Australia beat Vietnam, 1-0, to become the first AFC nation to win 10 successive World Cup qualifiers while Japan edged China by the same score to rebound after a shock defeat to Oman last week.

Australia’s victory, courtesy of Rhyan Grant’s first-half winner, left the Socceroos on two wins from two in Group B.

Played behind closed doors at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi because of Covid-19 restrictions, Australia struggled to get past Vietnam’s disciplined defense before Grant’s header in the 43rd minute from an Ajdin Hrustic cross broke the deadlock.

It was Grant’s first international goal and ended Vietnam’s 17-match unbeaten streak at home.

Australia had beaten China 3-0 in Doha last week and the victory means they have a perfect 10 wins from 10 matches starting with the first round of qualifying.

Japan also bagged three points against China on Tuesday to revive their campaign after they lost 1-0 to Oman in the first match of the final round of qualifying.

Despite the narrow margin of victory, Japan were clearly the dominant side at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

Efforts by Yuya Osaka and
Spain-based Takefusa Kubo hit the post in the first half but China’s luck ran out in the 40th minute.

Junya Ito produced a brilliant pass after getting past Wang Shenchao and Osako made amends for his earlier miss with a fine volley.

In a late match Iran eased to a 3-0 win over Iraq at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

Iran struck through Alireza Jahanbaksh in the second minute before Mehdi Taremi and Ali Gholizadeh scored in the second half to put the outcome beyond doubt.

Saudi Arabia bidding for a second successive appearance at the finals grabbed their second victory, edging out Oman 1-0 in Muscat with Saleh
al-Shehri’s 42nd minute strike proving decisive.

Both teams were fresh from their opening wins but failed to come up with an inspired display at the Sultan Qaboos Stadium.