Saudis beat Vietnam 1-0 and close in on World Cup berth

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Saudi Arabia defeated Vietnam 1-0 in Hanoi on Tuesday to earn a fifth win from six games in World Cup qualification and an extended lead in Asia Group B from Australia and Japan.

Seeking a sixth World Cup appearance, Saudi Arabia was six points ahead of Australia and seven ahead of Japan, who were both in action late Tuesday against China and Oman respectively.

Vietnam stayed pointless.

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Only the top two in each group are guaranteed a place in Qatar in November 2022. The two third-placed finishers play off, with the winner meeting a team from another confederation.

Saudi Arabia started strongly and after 30 minutes Saleh Al-Shehri’s looping header from inside the area was saved by Bi Tan Truong in the Vietnam goal, but the ball was adjudged to have already crossed the line.

Fahad Al-Muwallad seemed to extend the visitors’ lead from close range with 15 minutes remaining but it was ruled out by VAR due to a foul in the build-up.

In Group A, a late Ali Mabkhout penalty earned United Arab Emirates a 1-0 win over Lebanon in Sidon, its first in the stage. It was enough to move the team that qualified for its first and only World Cup in 1990, above Lebanon and into third place.

But the group’s top two spots already look taken by Iran and South Korea. Later Tuesday, Iran met Syria while South Korea faced Iraq.

Read more: Saudi Arabia edges off China to remain undefeated in AFC World Cup Qualifiers

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