Soccer·Roundup

Draw with Iraq complicates Japan's path to World Cup

Japan stumbled in its bid to qualify for the World Cup after being held to a 1-1 draw by Iraq on Tuesday.

UAE-Thailand, Syria-China matchups also end in ties

Japan's Genki Haraguchi of Japan, left, shoots past Iraqi defenders during their World Cup qualifying game Tuesday Tehran. (Amin M. Jamali/Getty Images)

Japan stumbled in its bid to qualify for the World Cup after being held to a 1-1 draw by Iraq on Tuesday.

Yuya Osaka scored a header early in the match in Tehran, where Iraq plays its home games for security reasons. But Mahdi Kamel equalized in the second half for Iraq, which has already been eliminated from qualifying.

Japan leads the group by one point ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia with two games remaining.

Japan will host Australia in August and then play in Saudi Arabia in September.

Only the top two from the two six-team groups automatically qualify for the World Cup in Russia. The third-place finishers advance to the playoffs.

Also, Ali Mabkhout scored an injury-time goal to give the United Arab Emirates a 1-1 draw at Thailand.

Thailand, which is in last place in Group B, got its goal from Mongkol Kraisorn.

In Group A, Ahmad Al Saleh scored an injury-time equalizer to give Syria a 2-2 draw with China. Al Saleh scored from a free kick.

The match was played in the neutral Malaysian city of Melaka.

Syria took the lead in the 12th minute when Mahmoud Al Mawas scored from the penalty spot. But China, led by 2006 World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, scored its own penalty in the 68th when Gao Lin converted.

Xiao Zhi then put China temporarily ahead in the 75th.

Both Syria and China trail third-place Uzbekistan with two games remaining.

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