08.10.2015 17:01 h

Mahmoud rescues Iraq with late penalty

Iraq captain Younis Mahmoud rescued a point for Iraq with a last-ditch penalty as the former Asian champions drew 1-1 with Vietnam in Hanoi on Thursday in the Asian Qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

A first-half strike by Le Cong Vinh gave the hosts the lead at My Dinh Stadium but Mahmoud converted a spot kick deep into stoppage time, which kept his side unbeaten in Group F and boosted their hopes of advancing to the third round of the Asian Qualifiers.

Palestine also needed a late equaliser as they drew 1-1 with Timor Leste in Group A, while North Korea dropped their first points in Group H when they were held to a goalless draw by the Philippines in Pyongyang.

A win for Iraq would have seen the Middle Eastern side move to the top of Group F, ahead of Thailand on goal difference.

But, they found themselves trailing after 25 minute when Nguyen Trong Hoang's superb through-ball from the right flank found an unmarked Cong Vinh who kept his cool to slot past goalkeeper Noor Sabri.

The home side were on the defensive for much of the game with goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh making a series of superb saves to deny Ali Adnan, Yasin Ahmed and Ali Hosni.

However, the Iraqi pressure finally told in the seventh minute of stoppage time when Mahmoud was felled in the Vietnamese box and sent Nguyen Manh the wrong way from the penalty spot to earn his side what could to be an invaluable point.

They moved up to five points from three games, two points behind leaders Thailand, who are not in action this week.

In Dili, Timor Leste were on the verge of a famous win over Palestine, who are 40 places above them in the FIFA World Ranking, when Ramon Saro headed them ahead in the 54th minute.

However, Palestine salvaged a point when substitute Ahmed Abu Nahyeh hooked the ball in from close range in the second minute of stoppage time to keep them in third place in Group A behind leaders Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

North Korea's perfect start in Group H came to an end when they were surprisingly held 0-0 at home by the Philippines.

They had won their first three games against Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Yemen but could find no way past the defence of the Azkals who moved up to second in the group ahead of the game between Bahrain and Uzbekistan later on Thursday.

In other early matches on Thursday, Singapore downed Afghanistan 1-0 in Group E with a 72nd minute header by Khairul Amri, while goals by Hassan Maatouk and Abbas Atwi gave Lebanon a 2-0 win over Myanmar in a Group G game in Bangkok.

Maldives picked up their first points in Group C after withstanding a late fightback to win 4-3 at Bhutan.

Ahmed Nashid's opening goal and an Ali Ashfaq hat-trick gave the visitors a four-goal advantage but Bhutan reduced the deficit with goals by Tshering Dorji, Chencho Gyeltshen and Biren Basnet in the final five minutes.

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