CHINA pulled off a stunning victory over Qatar last night to book its place in the next round of World Cup qualifying, alongside Asian heavyweights Australia and Japan.
Veteran Tim Cahill scored twice as Australia eased past Harry Redknapp’s Jordan 5-1, while Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa also netted a double in Japan’s 5-0 win over Syria.
But the night’s big result was in Xi’an, China, where the host overcame a lackluster Qatar 2-0 to move to the brink of the next qualifying phase and a spot at the 2019 Asian Cup.
The result, coupled with the Philippines’ 3-2 upset of North Korea in Manila and Iran’s 2-0 win over Oman later, meant that China goes through as one of the four best-performing second-placed teams.
China has only qualified for one World Cup, in 2002, but President Xi Jinping is spearheading a drive to turn the Asian country into a footballing power.
Eight group winners and the four best-performing second-placed teams go through to the third round and also earn a berth at the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
War-torn Syria made it through as one of the best second-placed teams despite the late flurry of goals which consigned it to a 0-5 defeat in Saitama.
A own-goal from Hamdi al-Masri after 17 minutes put Japan in front, before Kagawa’s double alongside late strikes from Keisuke Honda and Genki Haraguchi gave the scoreline gloss.
Japan and Australia, the Asian champion, finished top of Group E and B, respectively, to reach the next stage as they bid for one of the region’s 4.5 qualifying spots for Russia 2018.
In Sydney, Cahill, now 36 and playing for China’s Hangzhou Greentown, struck twice in the first half against Jordan to stretch his record Australian tally to 47 goals in 89 games.
South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Uzbekistan and Thailand are also through as the final evening of games unfolded across the region.（Source: AFP）
pull off 成功完成，做成（困难的事情）