FIFA World Cup Qualifying Wrap: Australia, Iran, South Korea qualify
By Football News
Australia, Iran and South Korea secured their places at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in the last round of AFC qualifying on Tuesday.
Iran secured their fourth finals appearance thanks to a 1-0 win over South Korea in Ulsan.
Ahead of the game, each team knew a win would secure their place in Brazil, with Uzbekistan hoping to overtake the losers. With the Koreans going into the game a point clear, a raw would have suited them but Reza Ghoochannejhad took advantage of some sloppy defending to seal his side's progression and put Korean nerves on the edge.
However, they were reprieved by the narrowest of margins, as Uzbekistan could not secure the six-goal swing in goal difference they need to overtake South Korea, although it was not for a lack of trying.
Uzbekistan were left in the play-off place from the group after they beat Qatar 5-1, leaving themselves only two goals short of the automatic spot.
The hunt did not begin well for them, despite being dominant, and they found themselves 1-0 down to their opponents after a goal from Abdulqadir Ilyas on 37 minutes.
The second half brought hope though, as substitute Bahodir Nasimov scored his first goal immediately after coming off the bench on the hour mark and grabbed his second 13 minutes later.
Oleg Zoteev also scored from the bench to make it 3-1 before Odil Ahmedov and Ulegbek Bakaev netted in the closing minutes, but it was not enough.
Australia needed to beat Iraq to secure second place in Group B behind Japan, and they eventually delivered as Josh Kennedy struck in the 83rd minute to seal a 1-0 win.
Holger Osieck's side were made to sweat for the vital points, and had Mark Schwarzer to thank as the former Fulham man made a number of stops to keep Iraq out before substitute Kennedy nodded home a cross from Mark Bresciano just seven minutes before the final whistle.
Jordan beat Oman to third place in Group B, thanks to a narrow 1-0 win.
Oman only needed a draw to finish above their opponents, but the vital goal came from 21-year-old Ahmad Hayel Ibrahim, who has now scored seven goals for his country throughout the qualification process.
The winner of the play-off tie between Jordan and Uzbekistan will face the fifth-placed side in the CONMEBOL section, over two legs, for a spot in Brazil next year.