Australia beats UAE 2-0 after 4 draws in qualifying

Australia defeated United Arab Emirates 2-0 in Sydney on Tuesday, ending a run of four games without a win to get its qualification for the 2018 World Cup back on track.

UAE's second loss in five days prompted coach Mahdi Ali to announce his resignation following the match. He'd been in charge since 2012.

''We had so many achievements, and we worked very hard,'' Ali said. ''It is a very bad moment for me. I wish I would leave the national team in a better condition, but this is life.''

Goals in each half from Jackson Irvine and Mathew Leckie sealed a vital win for the Socceroos, who had slipped into third place in Group B behind Saudi Arabia and Japan after four successive draws.

UAE arrived in Sydney in fourth, a point behind Australia.

Lax marking at a seventh-minute corner gave Irvine a free header that took a deflection on its way into the net.

With 12 minutes remaining Leckie headed home a James Troisi cross to give Australia three points that kept alive hope of a fourth successive World Cup appearance.

Ali said his side struggled for fitness and health ahead of the crucial set of fixtures against Japan - a 2-0 loss last Thursday - and Australia.

''We started our camp and there was 14 players injured on the first day, we trained only with nine players,'' he said. ''It was always going to be difficult to prepare the team for such a big game against Australia.''

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JAPAN 4, THAILAND 0

Japan won its third game in a row at the expense of the bottom team in Group B. Thailand can no longer qualify.

Japan had first-half goals at Saitama Stadium from Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki. Yuya Kubo added a third just before the hour, and defender Maya Yoshida headed in a fourth just before fulltime.

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SOUTH KOREA 1, SYRIA 0

South Korea stayed second in Group A following a fourth-minute goal from defender Hong Jeong-ho.

After losing in China five days earlier, South Korea returned with a win for under-pressure coach Uli Stielike in Seoul.

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IRAN 1, CHINA 0

China's chances of qualifying virtually ended with a first defeat in competitive action for coach Marcello Lippi since he was appointed in November.

China has just five points from seven of the 10 games.

Iran maintained its four-point lead in Group A thanks to a Mehdi Taremi strike just after halftime, which sent the vast majority of the near 100,000-strong crowd at Tehran's Azadi Stadium wild.

Under coach Carloz Queiroz, Iran has yet to concede a goal in seven games, and needs one win in its final three games to qualify for a fifth World Cup.

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UZBEKISTAN 1, QATAR 0

Uzbekistan moved to within a point of second-place South Korea in Group A. Odil Ahmedov scored from a second-half free kick.

Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, cannot qualify automatically for 2018, but can finish third in the group and enter via a playoff.

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