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Saudi defeats Iraq, while Iran, Syria settle for draws Open in fullscreen

Martin Armstrong

Saudi defeats Iraq, while Iran, Syria settle for draws

Saudi striker Nawaf al-Abid celebrates after scoring one of two penalties during the game [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 September, 2016

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In the third round of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, Iraq lost to Saudi Arabia, while Iran and Syria drew in their respective matches against South Korea and China.
In the third round of group matches in the Asia section of qualification for the 2018 World Cup, Iraq fell 2-1 to Saudi Arabia despite taking an early lead.

Due to the security situation in Iraq the fixture was played on neutral ground in the Shah Alam Stadium in Malaysia.

Elsewhere, both Syria and Iran were held to nil-nil draws in their respective matches against South Korea and China.

Iraq opened the scoring in the 18th minute through a smart turn and finish from al-Zawra striker Mohamad Abdul Raheem following good work down the right from al-Qadisiyah midfielder Saad Abdulameer.

It marked Raheem's seventh international goal in 26 appearances for Iraq.

However Iraq’s precarious lead only lasted until the 81st minute when Raheem’s strike was cancelled out from the penalty spot by al-Hilal’s attacking midfielder Nawaf al-Abid.

Abid converted a second penalty three minutes from time after falling under a heavy challenge in the box to break Iraqi hearts and seal all three points for the visiting Green Falcons.

Following the result Saudi Arabia stand at the top of Group B, ahead of Australia and Japan, following two wins from their opening two matches.

Iraq, meanwhile stand second from the bottom, separated from Thailand on goal difference following two straight defeats.

Syria’s 0-0 draw with South Korea was also played out in a neutral venue in Malaysia.

South Korea had the better of chances in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium but were unable to find a way past Syrian goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma.

The draw leaves Syria with one point from it’s opening two fixtures, fifth in Group A, ahead of Qatar who kicked off later in the day against Kazakhstan.

Iran’s valuable draw away to China leaves them joint-top of Group A with South Korea, on 4 points, following a 2-0 victory in their opening fixture against Qatar on 1 September.

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