x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Temperature a heated issue for Australia in Oman

Australia wilt in the heat but manage a goalless draw with Oman; South Korea rally to defeat Qatar; Japan stroll past Jordan.

Keisuke Honda, right, celebrates scoring his second goal against Jordan with Shinji Kagawa. Honda finished with three tallies in Japan's 6-0 win.
Keisuke Honda, right, celebrates scoring his second goal against Jordan with Shinji Kagawa. Honda finished with three tallies in Japan's 6-0 win.

An out-of-sorts Australia escaped the searing heat of Muscat with a goalless draw against Oman in their World Cup qualifying match on Friday.

The Socceroos were second best for long periods in the Group B fourth-round clash played in temperatures peaking at 35°C.

Oman had been outclassed in losing their opening fixture 3-0 away to Japan, but Paul Le Guen's side played with much more confidence as they pressured their opponents for much of the game.

In the 56th minute, the hosts had the best chance, but a brilliant save from the Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer turned a diving header from Amad Al Hosni around the post, leaving the frustrated striker holding his head in his hands.

The opportunity came from a corner, one of several Oman, ranked No 97 by Fifa, had in the second half as they regularly found themselves in good positions down the flanks against the tiring visitors.

Australia, who lost to Oman 1-0 in Muscat in the third round of qualifiers, had named a defensive starting line-up with the forward Harry Kewell up front on his own.

Like many of his teammates, he struggled in the heat during the match which started with the sun shining bright at 5pm local time, much to the ire of the Australia coach Holger Osieck, who had questioned the kick-off time.

Elsewhere, in Doha, South Korea came from a goal down to beat Qatar 4-1 in the opener for both teams.

Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host, appeared poised for an upset when Yousef Ahmad Ali rushed past a defender and fired a shot that ricocheted in off goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong in the 22nd minute.

But the lead was short-lived.

Lee Keun-ho got the first of his two goals four minutes later when he headed in off a corner. Kwak Tae-hwi gave the South Koreans the lead in the 55th and an unmarked Kim Shin-wook put the match out of reach in the 64th before Lee connected in the 80th.

At Saitama, Japan, the midfielder Keisuke Honda scored a hat trick as Japan trounced 10-man Jordan 6-0. Ryoichi Maeda, the Manchester United-bound Shinji Kagawa and Yuzo Kurihara also scored for Japan.

In Beirut, Lebanon continued their disappointing start with a 1-1 draw against Uzbekistan.

Lebanon have one point after two home matches.

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