Syria scored deep into stoppage time at Iran to keep alive its hopes of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time amid an ongoing civil war at home.
Facing elimination from Asian qualifying, Omar al-Soma’s late goal clinched a 2-2 draw in Tehran and a place in the playoffs for the country.
Al-Soma has only just returned to the squad after a five-year absence, having been living outside Syria without expressing support for the opposition.
The pursuit of a place at the World Cup in Russia has provided a flicker of joy in parts of a country divided by six years of war. Big screens were erected in the Syrian capital Damascus for public screenings.
But while Iran had already qualified for the FIFA showpiece in Russia next year, Syria will have to do it the hard way.
Syria will play Australia in a two-match Asian series next month. To make the World Cup, the winner will then have to beat a team from the CONCACAF confederation covering North and Central America, and the Caribbean. Syria will likely play its ‘home’ match against Australia in Malaysia, as it has during Asian qualifying, due to the ongoing war.
- Complete results at bottom of page
Desperate U.S. salvages draw with Honduras
Bobby Wood scored off a scramble in the 85th minute, and the United States escaped from Honduras with a 1-1 tie Tuesday after nearly falling into a deep hole in World Cup qualifying.
Romell Quioto scored in the 27th minute after defender Omar Gonzalez failed to clear the ball with a slide tackle. Quioto was left with an open 11-yard shot that beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the far post, causing exuberant fans to stomp and shake Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano. The previously well-behaved fans threw horns and liquids at the Americans as they exited the field.
Christian Pulisic was fouled about 30 yards from the goal and Kellyn Acosta took the free kick. Goalkeeper Luis Lopez batted the ball with his left hand, and Matt Besler hooked it to Jordan Morris. He sent a backward header to Wood, a 73rd-minute substitute.
Wood chested the ball and scored his ninth international goal, avoiding a huge U.S. embarrassment and deflating fans who had been celebrating since the start.
Spanish rout maintains lead over Italy
Spain cruised to an 8-0 win over last-place Liechtenstein to stay in control of Group G in European qualifying for the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday.
Alvaro Morata and Iago Aspas each scored two goals as Spain guaranteed at least second place in the group and repeated its 8-0 victory over Liechtenstein last year.
Spain has 22 points from eight matches, three more than Italy, which edged third-place Israel 1-0 at home.
Spain has a much better goal difference than Italy, so it can virtually secure first place — and a guaranteed spot for next year’s tournament in Russia — with a home win against Albania in Alicante on Oct. 6.
Spain’s last loss in World Cup qualifying was in November 1993.
South Korea avoids scare
South Korea overcame a troubled campaign to qualify for next year’s World Cup. A goalless draw away to Uzbekistan was enough for South Korea on the final day of Asian group games.
The South Koreans hit the woodwork twice in the first half, but endured some nervy moments in the second against Uzbekistan, which was in contention to make its first World Cup appearance.
When the final whistle blew, several South Korean players sank to the ground in relief before starting some low-key celebrations. South Korea had risked missing the World Cup for the first time since 1982 after a campaign which included surprise losses to Qatar and China.
Australia on verge of automatic qualification
Earlier, a nervous Australia lineup wasted dozens of opportunities and needed a late winner to edge Thailand 2-1 on Tuesday and maintain hope of gaining automatic entry to the World Cup.
Australia moved into second place, meaning Saudi Arabia had to win at home against already-qualified Japan to overhaul the Socceroos for the second direct spot from Group B. The Saudis entered the last matchday in Asian qualifying tied with Australia with 16 points but with a superior goal difference.
That left Saudi Arabia needing to win by just one goal against Japan. Fahad Al Muwallad obliged with a fierce strike into the top-right corner in the 63rd minute to hand the Saudis a 1-0 win and their first World Cup appearance since 2006.
The top two teams in each group go directly to the World Cup, and the third-place teams go into a playoff for a shot at an intercontinental qualifier.
Australia was unbeaten in qualifying until it lost at Japan last week, a result that ensured Japan secured first place in Group B and a spot in Russia next year. Thailand finished last in the group with two points.
Ireland in tough after loss to Serbia
A goal from Aleksandar Kolarov guided 10-man Serbia to a 1-0 win over Ireland on Tuesday, putting the Balkan nation on the verge of a place at next year’s World Cup.
The win in Dublin leaves Serbia top of Group D, four points clear of Wales with two games remaining against Austria and Georgia.
Unless Serbia slips up, Wales and third-placed Ireland face a tough fight for a playoff place after the Welsh earned a 2-0 win over tenacious Moldova.
Kolarov, an experienced full-back, ran onto a pass from Filip Kostic in the 55th minute and unleashed a fierce shot.
Serbia was reduced to 10 men after defender Nikola Maksimovic was sent off for a desperate lunge on Daryl Murphy in the 68th as the Ireland forward ran through on goal.
Austria drew 1-1 with Georgia.
FULL TUESDAY RESULTS
- Honduras 1, United States 1
- Panama 3, Trinidad and Tobago 0
- Costa Rica 1, Mexico 1
Europe Group D
- Austria 1, Georgia 1
- Ireland 0, Serbia 1
- Moldova 0, Wales 2
Europe Group G
- Italy 1, Israel 0
- Liechtenstein 0, Spain 8
- Macedonia 1, Albania 1
Europe Group I
- Iceland 2, Ukraine 0
- Kosovo 0, Finland 1
- Turkey 1, Croatia 0
- Bolivia 1, Chile 0
- Colombia 1, Brazil 1
- Peru 2, Ecuador 1
- Argentina 1, Venezuela 1
- Uruguay 2, Paraguay 1
Asia Group A
- Iran 2, Syria 2
- Qatar 1, China 2
- Uzbekistan 0, South Korea 0
Asia Group B
- Australia 2, Thailand 1
- Iraq 1, United Arab Emirates 0
- Saudi Arabia 1, Japan 0
Africa Group A
- Congo 2, Tunisia 2
Africa Group B
- Zambia 1, Algeria 0
Africa Group C
- Ivory Coast 1, Gabon 2
- Mali 0, Morocco 0
Africa Group D
- South Africa 1, Cape Verde 2
- Burkina Faso 2, Senegal 2
Africa Group E
- Republic of Congo 1, Ghana 5
- Egypt 1, Uganda 0
- Solomon Islands 2, New Zealand 2