Easy for S Korea, Australia

Easy for S Korea, Australia

Koreans, Aussies move closer to World Cup 2014 berth

Robbie Kruse grabbed one goal and laid on two others as Australia thrashed Jordan 4-0 on Tuesday to move a step closer to a third successive World Cup finals appearance.

The Bayer Leverkusen-bound winger set up midfielder Mark Bresciano and striker Tim Cahill in each half before scoring himself in the 76th minute.

Captain Lucas Neill then put the icing on the cake by heading home six minutes from time on a chilly night at Melbourne's Docklands Stadium.

The win put Australia second in Asia's Group B qualifying table on 10 points and victory over Iraq in their final match in Sydney next week would seal the second direct berth to Brazil 2014.

Japan are already assured of top spot in the group.

Jordan, on seven points, will need a home victory over third-placed Oman in their final qualifier and for other results to go their way to keep their hopes of a maiden World Cup appearance alive.

Unchanged Australia, riding a wave of confidence after holding Japan to a draw in Saitama last week, pledged to take the game to the cagey Middle Eastern side and were as good as their word as they peppered the goal from start to finish. With former Serie A playmaker Bresciano in outstanding form, Australia went close in the ninth minute when defender Mark Milligan fired the ball over the bar.

Goalkeeper Amer Shafi made an excellent save from a Brett Holman effort in the 14th minute although he could do nothing to stop Bresciano tapping the ball in a minute later from two metres out after a right-wing cross from Kruse.

Kruse blew a gilt-edged chance for the Socceroos's second goal four minutes later but made amends by setting up Cahill on the hour mark, the New York Bulls striker heading in from close range.

The 24-year-old Kruse slammed the door shut on 75th-ranked Jordan by turning the defence inside out after receiving the ball on the edge of the area and beating Shafi at the near post in the 76th minute. Neill scored his first international goal on his 91st appearance for the Socceroos, nodding in from close range to send a 43,000-plus crowd into raptures.

Later in the day, Asian champions Japan finished their qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Iraq in Doha on Tuesday that ended the West Asian nation's slim hopes of joining them in Brazil.

Iraq enjoyed plenty of possession and created lots of chances in the searing Qatari heat but could not find a way through and Japan made them pay with an 89th-minute goal on the counter from Shinji Okazaki.

The result leaves Japan on 17 points from their eight Group B games with Iraq bottom on five ahead of their eighth and final fixture away to Australia next week.

Korea close in

In Seoul, South Korea are on the brink of making another World Cup finals appearance after scraping to a 1-0 victory over Uzbekistan in a top-of-the-table qualifying clash. 

An entertaining match was settled by an own goal from Akmal Shorakhmedov just before halftime, the Uzbek defender heading Kim Young-gwon's cross from the right past his helpless goalkeeper.

The Koreans now have 14 points from seven matches in Group A of Asian qualifying, three clear of the Uzbeks with Iran on 10 from six games with only the top two guaranteed a place at Brazil 2014.

Iran host Lebanon later on Tuesday and a shock defeat for the home side would mean Korea qualifying ahead of their final fixture against Carlos Queiroz's side in Ulsan next week.

The Koreans need only a point against Iran to qualify but their strong goal difference means even a 1-0 defeat against the West Asians is likely to be enough unless the Uzbeks can score a six goal win over Qatar in their final fixture, also on Tuesday.