Palestine reach final round of WCQ for 1st time



Palestine advanced to the final round of World Cup qualification for the first time ever Thursday with a 0-0 draw against Lebanon.

Palestine, who played in Qatar because of security concerns in Gaza, are second in their group and five points clear of Lebanon with a single game left. The top two teams of each of the nine groups progress to the final qualifying round for the 2026 World Cup.

Elsewhere, Son Heung-Min scored twice as South Korea stayed on course for an 11th successive World Cup appearance by routing Singapore 7-0 to advance to the final round while China still have work to do after a 1-1 draw with Thailand.

South Korea stayed top of Group C with 13 points from five games, with China second on eight points. Thailand are three points behind in third with one round to go.

China have to play South Korea in their last game while Thailand host Singapore in Bangkok and could still clinch second place with a win if China loses.

It took just nine minutes for Lee Kang-In to open the scoring at a sold-out Singapore National Stadium, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder firing home from inside the area. Joo Min-Gyu added a second soon after.

Son then netted twice in the second half, Lee added his second and there were late goals from Bae Joon-ho and Hwang Hee-Chan.

“When you look at the results, probably everybody will say the Singapore team was really poor, but it wasn’t the case,” Son said. “They fought and we were more clinical … and we took the chances really well.”

China fell behind after 20 minutes in Shenyang to a goal from Supachok Sarachat. China’s Ferdandinho missed a penalty early in the second half but Baihelamu Abuduwaili leveled for the home team with 11 minutes remaining.

Australia, Japan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates had already qualified and all four maintained their perfect records.

Australia won 2-0 at Bangladesh with goals from Ajdin Hrustic and Kusini Yengi in Dhaka.

Japan beat Myanmar 5-0 in Yangon with Keito Nakamura and Koki Ogawa scoring twice each. Iraq defeated Indonesia 2-0 and UAE won 4-0 against Nepal.

Mehdi Taremi, who is leaving Porto in July to join Inter Milan, scored a hat trick as the already qualified Iran won 4-2 in Hong Kong.

Saudi Arabia advanced with a 3-0 victory in Pakistan as did Oman after a win over Taiwan.

India and Afghanistan are in contention for second place in Group A after goalless draws with Kuwait and Qatar respectively left the two teams level on five points.

Elsewhere, Vietnam and North Korea stayed in contention to advance to the next round with victories over Philippines and Syria, respectively.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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