China crush Guam, Aussies beat Nepal while Iran in women fans landmark
Guangzhou (AFP) –
Veteran striker Yang Xu scored four goals in 25 minutes during China's 7-0 blitz of Guam while Australia easily defeated a struggling Nepal in Thursday's World Cup Asian zone qualifiers.
China led 6-0 at half-time but struggled to keep up the pressure and would have gone scoreless in the second half without a sudden strike by Brazil-born Elkeson, who in August became the first player without Chinese heritage to be named in the national squad.
Meanwhile, Jamie Maclaren scored a hat-trick in Australia's 5-0 thrashing of Nepal in Canberra.
The Socceroos missed several opportunities against their 161st-ranked visitors but maintained a tight defence and dominated possession through the match.
Their opponents were flagging by half-time, with a dogged showing by keeper Kiran Chemjong avoiding a bigger blowout.
"We created a lot of chances and got a bit more ruthless when it counted," said Australia coach Graham Arnold after his side's biggest home win in three years.
Melbourne City's Maclaren opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Chemjong lost his grip on a drive from the edge of the box.
He doubled the lead in the 18th with a header off Rhyan Grant.
International debutant Harry Souttar followed five minutes later with his own nod into the goal, but a potential fourth by Mathew Leckie seconds before the break was controversially ruled offside.
The visitors rallied in the second half but an own goal just before the hour added to their woes.
Maclaren scored his third in the closing moments.
"(It's) my proudest moment in a football jersey," he told Fox Sports, while conceding that his side squandered a few easy opportunities through the match.
"End of the day we scored five... but looking back we could've scored more," he said.
In Tehran, Karim Ansarifard scored four goals, while Sardar Azmoun netted three as Iran breezed past minnows Cambodia 14-0.
Mehdi Taremi and Mohammad Mohebi recorded a brace each, while Morteza Pouraliganji, Mohammad Kanani and Ahmad Nourollahi helped themselves with a goal each.
- History for women fans in Iran -
Between 4,000-4,500 women attended a football match freely for the first time in decades, after FIFA threatened to suspend Iran over its controversial stadium restrictions.
Elated female fans wore the national green, white and red flag around their shoulders and over their hair as they streamed into a tiny section of Tehran's Azadi Stadium.
Some donned sporty hats over their headscarves, while others painted their faces with the colours of the flag.
World governing body FIFA feted Thursday's match as "a very positive step forward".
"FIFA now looks more than ever towards a future when ALL girls and women wishing to attend football matches in... Iran will be free to do so, and in a safe environment," it said.
"There can be no stopping or turning back now."
In Dhaka, meanwhile, Yusuf Abdurisag and Karim Boudiaf were on target in each half as 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar edged Bangladesh, while Oman eased past Afghanistan 3-0 in Seeb with Abdul Aziaz al-Muqabli grabbing a double.
Striker Kim Shin-wook scored four in South Korea's 8-0 drubbing of Sri Lanka while Japan triumphed 6-0 against Mongolia.
Saudi Arabia defeated Singapore 3-0, the UAE thrashed Indonesia 5-0, Uzbekistan drubbed Yemen 5-0 and Iraq prevailed over Hong Kong 2-0.
© 2019 AFP