SYDNEY: Saudi Arabia dampened Australia’s homecoming with a 0-0 draw Thursday in a top-of-the-table World Cup qualifying conflict in Sydney — the Socceroos’ first residence recreation in additional than two years. Defying a rowdy crowd of 23,314, the guests spoiled the occasion in a bad-tempered encounter performed in teeming rain. Saudi Arabia may even have received it in the direction of the top, having sat again for many of a colorless and niggly contest. On the midway stage of this ultimate spherical of qualifying for subsequent yr’s World Cup in Qatar, Saudi Arabia proceed to set the tempo in Group B with 13 factors. Australia are clinging to second with 10. Japan are third however now only a level behind the Socceroos after a 1-0 victory at basement facet Vietnam due to Junya Ito’s objective. Additionally in Group B, Oman rallied to carry China 1-1, a consequence that virtually put each groups out of competition. Wu Lei scored with a easy tap-in from shut from a Zhu Chenjie help within the first half whereas Amjad al-Harthi restored parity within the seventy fifth minute with a header from a nook. Solely the highest two are assured a ticket to the World Cup, with the staff in third going right into a playoff. “Sadly we could not get the three factors to have fun with the followers,” Australia ahead Mathew Leckie stated after the Saudi stalemate. “They defended rather well. It was simply a type of video games the ball did not need to go in.” Australia have been pumped up, having final performed in entrance of their followers in opposition to Nepal in Canberra in October 2019, earlier than being pressured abroad when the nation’s borders slammed shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The house facet had extra of the ball however have been let down by sloppiness in assault, with neither facet capable of muster an try on track within the first half. Australia have been aggressive within the second half in a determined bid to interrupt the impasse. They’d quite a few alternatives however have been regularly thwarted within the rain by Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al Yami. Saudi Arabia seemed to be wilting and misplaced their composure as Abdulelah Alamri and Ali Albulayhi have been proven yellow playing cards. However Australia’s momentum got here to a halt when defender Harry Souttar, who’s reportedly on the transfer to the English Premier League, was stretchered off with a knee damage. The away staff appeared the extra prone to rating in the direction of the top, however have been unable to grab a late victory. In Group A, in-form Wolves striker Hwang Hee-chan upstaged fellow Premier League star Son Heung-min with the one objective in South Korea’s 1-0 residence win over the UAE. Hwang scored within the thirty sixth minute from the penalty spot to maneuver South Korea, who dominated the match however missed quite a few alternatives, a step nearer to Qatar. The sport occurred in entrance of greater than 30,000 followers at Goyang Stadium, the biggest crowd at a sports activities occasion in South Korea for the reason that pandemic started. Spurs ace Son, who hit the woodwork twice, stated: “It isn’t straightforward to get so many possibilities… I really feel sorry for my teammates. It is time for me to replicate (on his misses). “I’m so grateful for all of the followers who’ve come all the way in which right here within the chilly climate,” he added. “I want we had performed higher for them.” South Korea briefly topped Group A, however Iran clung to the summit after scoring twice in damage time for an exhilarating 2-1 win in Lebanon. In a late Group A match, Iraq clinched a 1-1 draw with Syria with Amir al-Ammari scoring the equalizer within the 86th minute. Omar al-Somah’s 79th minute strike had raised hopes of a primary win for Syria in 5 matches however al-Ammari slotted residence from the penalty spot as Iraq drew stage with third-placed Lebanon on 5 factors.