Football : Iraq equaliser dents Australia World Cup hopes
Ahmad Yaseen’s second-half equaliser earned Iraq a 1-1 draw with Australia on Thursday in Tehran and left the Socceroos with work to do to reach next year’s World Cup.
Matthew Leckie scored five minutes before half-time but Yaseen’s finish on 76 minutes condemned Australia to a fourth draw in six games in the final group stage of qualifying.
Australia, now with 10 points, began the day third in Group B behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, and level on points with United Arab Emirates.
With only the top two teams gaining an automatic spot to Russia 2018, Australia’s home game against UAE on Tuesday now takes on added significance.
At a rain-soaked PAS Stadium in the Iranian capital, the Socceroos lived on their wits in the opening half-hour with Amjad Kalaf spurning a hatful of close-range chances and goalkeeper Mitch Langerak repeatedly stretched.
Australia slowly took a grip on proceedings and on 40 minutes Aaron Mooy’s corner from the left picked out the unmarked Leckie, who firmly headed home at the near post.
But with 14 minutes remaining, Ali Adnan’s perfect cross was met by Yaseen, who gobbled up the opportunity to level the scores at 1-1.
Tim Cahill had a shot cleared off the line in the dying minutes before Ange Postecoglou’s men were forced to settle for a point against the determined Iraqis.