South Korea bounces back as Iraq, Australia progress in World Cup qualifiers

Iraq and Australia ensured their progress to the third round of Asia's 2026 World Cup preliminaries on Tuesday with wins against the Philippines and Lebanon respectively, while South Korea edged closer with a 3-0 win over Thailand.

The Iraqis notched up their fourth victory in a row to advance as Jesus Casas' side handed the Philippines a 5-0 thumping in Manila.

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Aymen Hussein scored twice in the first half, either side of a goal from Amir Ali Ammari, while former Manchester United midfielder Zidane Iqbal and Zayed Tahseen were on target in the 61st and 77th minutes respectively.

The win moves Iraq onto 12 points in Group F, nine clear of third placed Vietnam, who suffered a damaging 3-0 loss in Hanoi against Indonesia.

That result strengthens Indonesia's hopes of a place in the next round as Shin Tae-yong's team consolidate their hold on second place in the group ahead of the Vietnamese with two games remaining.

Jay Noah Idzes gave the visitors the lead in the ninth minute and further goals from Rangar Oratmangoen and Muhammad Sananta sealed a key success for the South East Asians.

The top two finishers in each of the nine groups advance to the next round of qualifying, which will see 18 teams battle for Asia's eight guaranteed berths at the first-ever 48-team World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the United States in 2026.

Craig Goodwin scored twice as Australia also progressed in a 5-0 win over Lebanon in Canberra that confirmed the Socceroos would advance from Group I with maximum points from four games.

Palestine, meanwhile, sit in second place with seven points after securing a 1-0 victory over Bangladesh.

Michel Termanini scored two minutes after Amid Mahajna's 92nd minute sending off for a second yellow card to move the Palestinians five points ahead of third-placed Lebanon.

The South Koreans, meanwhile, put Thursday's disappointing draw with Thailand in Seoul behind them in the return clash in Bangkok with Lee Jae-Sung, Son Heung-Min and Park Jin-Seop netting in a 3-0 win in Group C.

Lee bundled his effort over the goal line in the 19th minute following Cho Gue-Sung's centre and Son doubled the lead nine minutes after the interval from Lee Kang-In's incisive pass.

Park completed the win eight minutes from time with a close-range volley after Kim Min-Jae had headed Kim Jin-Su's cross into his path.

China moved into second in the group with a 4-1 win against Singapore, with Wu Lei scoring twice to take Branko Ivankovic's side onto seven points from four games, three ahead of the third-placed Thais.