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China secures a comeback victory, while favorite win big in World Cup Asian qualifiers


China secured a morale-boosting 2-1 comeback victory over Thailand in Group C of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers Round 2 in Bangkok on Thursday, while favourites Australia, Japan, and South Korea all achieved lopsided wins.

Thailand broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute through a counterattack. After Suphanat Mueanta’s attempt was denied by goalkeeper Yan Junling, he recovered the loose ball and set up Supachok Sarachat, who then assisted Sarach Yooyen to volley home.

China equalized six minutes later as Wei Shihao advanced and delivered a pass for Wu Lei to slide it in at the back post. In the 74th minute, Xie Pengfei’s precision lob found an unmarked Wang Shangyuan, who completed the play with a diving header undisturbed.

Earlier on Thursday, South Korea dominated Singapore 5-0 to lead Group C on goal difference. China is set to host South Korea on November 21, while Singapore will face Thailand at home.

Despite the absence of Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma due to injury, Japan clinched a 5-0 victory over Myanmar at home, propelled by Feyenoord striker Ayase Ueda’s hat-trick, leading Group B ahead of second-placed Syria, who narrowly defeated DPR Korea 1-0.

In Group I, Australia overwhelmed Bangladesh 7-0 in Melbourne, marking its biggest victory since 2019.

Jamie Maclaren, coming off the bench, scored a hat-trick in the second half, following Mitchell Duke’s first-half brace.

Almoez Ali scored four goals as Qatar routed Afghanistan 8-1 in Doha, while Saudi Arabia and Iran secured comfortable 4-0 victories against Pakistan and China’s Hong Kong, respectively.

Running through June 11, 2024, a total of 36 teams are competing in nine groups of four in a home-and-away round-robin format in the second round of the Asian qualifiers. The top two teams from each group will advance to the third round.

Eight direct berths and one intercontinental playoff ticket for the 2026 World Cup are available for Asian Football Confederation teams.

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