Reuters3 Minute Reading
Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran secured comfortable victories on Thursday as the second round of Asian preliminaries for the 2026 World Cup began for the region’s dominant nations with few surprises and many goals.
Japan’s Ayase Ueda scored a hat-trick as a largely second-string side beat Myanmar 5-0 after Hajime Moriyasu opted to leave most of his top performers on the bench ahead of their tighter Group B match against Syria in Jeddah on Tuesday.
Ueda put the Japanese ahead in the 11th minute at the Suita Stadium outside Osaka when he headed home Takumi Minamino’s lofted pass and Daichi Kamada doubled the advantage 17 minutes later from distance.
Ritsu Doan set up Ueda’s second in injury time in the first half and he completed his hat trick five minutes into the second half after Minamino opened up the Myanmar defense as Doan scored the fifth four minutes from time. .
Australia were also untroubled as they completed a 7-0 demolition of Bangladesh in Group I with Jamie Maclaren coming off the bench to score a second half hat-trick.
Goals from Harry Souttar and Brandon Borrello gave the hosts a two-goal lead inside the opening 20 minutes before Mitchell Duke hit a brace late in the first half as Australia stampeded past the Souths. Asian at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Maclaren scored from a Jordan Bos cross shortly after the restart before rebounding in the 70th when a Massimo Luongo shot hit goalkeeper Mitul Marma as Lewis Miller set up Maclaren for his hat-trick in the 84th minute.
The win put the Australians at the top of the first standings after Lebanon and Palestine shared a 0-0 draw in Sharjah.
South Korea scored four times in the second half to hand Singapore a 5-0 loss in Group C at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Cho Gue-sung put Juergen Klinsmann’s team in front a minute before the halftime break and Hwang Hee-chan added a second four minutes into the second half.
Son Heung-Min hit the third in the 63rd before Hwang Ui-jo’s penalty and Lee Kang-in’s late effort wrapped up the win.
The Koreans were joined by three points with China, who defeated Thailand, 2-1 in Bangkok, where Wang Shangyuan hit the decision 16 minutes from time.
Iran topped Group E after Sardar Azmoun’s early double helped them to a 4-0 win over Hong Kong. Uzbekistan, who defeated Turkmenistan, 3-1, is tied with three points.
Saleh Al Shehri scored twice as Saudi Arabia won 4-0 against Pakistan in Group G, with injury-time goals from Abdulrahman Ghareeb and Abdullah Radif boosting the scoreline as Jordán was held to a 1-1 draw. draw in Tajikistan.
Malaysia posted a 4-3 win over Kyrgyzstan in Group D where Oman also dominated, securing a 3-0 win over Taiwan.
Vietnam beat hosts Philippines 2-0 in Group F before Iraq secured a comfortable 5-1 victory over Indonesia while in Group H the United Arab Emirates crashed to a 4-0 victory over Nepal.
Almoez Ali scored four times in Qatar’s 8-1 Group A demolition of Afghanistan and India’s Manvir Singh struck in the 75th minute to thank for their 1-0 win over Kuwait.
North Korea played their first senior international in four years on Thursday and lost 1-0 to Syria in Jeddah in one of the last ties of the round.
In the 36th minute, Omar Al Somah scored a penalty after North Korea’s goalkeeper, Kang Ju-hyok, collided with him.
Bahrain claimed a 2-0 victory over Yemen, with Mohamed Marhoon scoring the opener, followed by Yemen defender Harwan Al Zubaidi who conceded an own goal in the first minutes after the break.