Iraq wins away to Singapore in WCup qualifying
Iraq got its World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with a 2-0 win at Singapore on Tuesday, while North Korea did the same with a 1-0 home victory over Tajikistan.
Iraq, coached by former Brazil great Zico, recovered from the upset home loss to Jordan in their opening match Friday, with striker Alaa Abdul-Zahra and captain Younis Mahmoud scoring in the second half against Singapore.
North Korea also took its first points of the campaign with its victory in Pyongyang, while Thailand and Bahrain were among other winners on the second match day in the penultimate group stage.
Iraq, which has played under high expectation since winning the 2007 Asian Cup and having appointed a big-name coach in Zico, produced a solid performance in Singapore.
The Iraqis controlled play throughout the game, missing several close-range chances in the first half. Iraq kept the pressure on at the start of the second half and broke through in the 50th minute when Abdul-Zahra headed home. Mahmoud sealed the visitor's win with a second goal in the 86th minute.
Iraq has three points from two games, while Singapore - which lost 2-1 at China on Friday - has no points.
North Korea's sole goal came from Pak Nam Chol in the 14th minute and the hosts then used their trademark strong defense to maintain the advantage.
The win gave North Korea three points from two games after conceding an injury-time winner in its opener against Japan, while Tajikistan - which only advanced to this stage after Syria was disqualified for fielding an ineligible player in the previous round - has lost both its games.
Thailand was another team eager to make up for defeat on the opening day - when it came up empty-handed despite an impressive defensive performance in Australia - and maintained that good form by beating Oman 3-0 on Tuesday.
The biggest hurdle Thailand faced was visiting goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi of Premier League club Wigan, but Sompong Soleb beat him in the 35th minute, and striker Teerasil Dangda doubled the advantage in the 41st.
Oman, coached by Paul LeGuen, could not cut the deficit and an own goal in stoppage time in the second half by Rashid al Farsi completed the scoring.
Thailand has three points from two games while Oman - which drew 0-0 at home with Saudi Arabia in its opening game - has one.
Bahrain, coached by former England under-21 and Leicester manager Peter Taylor, won 2-0 away to Indonesia.
Teenage midfielder Sayed Dhiya Saeed put the visitors ahead just before halftime and Ismaeel Abdullatif netted the second goal in the 71st.
Having been held to a scoreless home draw by Qatar in its opening game, Bahrain has four points from two games in Group E and its early form suggests the potential repeat of the previous World Cup campaign when the small Gulf nation went all the way to the intercontinental playoff against New Zealand for the last spot in South Africa.