Taiwan falls to Australia 5-1 in World Cup qualifier
Taipei, June 8 (CNA) Taiwan has lost its seventh consecutive qualifying match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, falling to Australia 5-1 on Monday in Kuwait.
The loss meant that Taiwan will finish last in the five-team Group B in the second round of Asian qualifiers with one match left to play on June 15 against Kuwait.
Australia leads the group with six straight wins and appears certain to clinch the group's top spot and an automatic berth in the next qualification round.
Despite the loss to the group's best team, Taiwan's head coach Henry Von (王家中) said his team actually performed better than in its 2-0 loss to Nepal in Kuwait on June 3.
The team worked hard to meet its goals in this high-intensity match, Von said, and he declared himself satisfied with the team's performance and proud of his players, who gained valuable experience against one of the top sides in the Asian qualifiers.
Despite being a heavy underdog, Taiwan used a defensive strategy that held off the Australians early, but that quickly changed in the 12th minute, when 1.98m Socceroos defender Harry Souttar knocked in a header off a corner kick by Riley McGree.
Australia's lead doubled in the 26th minute when forward Jamie Maclaren converted a penalty kick, awarded after he was hacked down in the box by Taiwan defender Chen Wei-chuan (陳威全), who received a yellow card.
Australia padded its lead not long before halftime on another set piece in the 40th minute, when Socceroo captain Trent Sainsbury headed in another corner kick by McGree.
The Socceroos' scoring spell continued just 18 seconds into the second half, when Mitchell Duke headed home a cross from Brandon Borrello.
The Taiwanese, however, refused to give up and eventually found an opportunity of their own in the 61st minute.
Midfielder Tu Shao-chieh (涂紹捷) burst forward and cut the ball back to forward Gao Wei-jie (高偉傑) who sent the ball into the top right corner of the net past Australian goalkeeper Daniel Vukovic.
The Australians added a final goal in the 84th minute when Taiwan goalkeeper Shih Shin-an (施信安) was pulled out of position and striker Nikita Rukavytsya cut the ball back for Duke, who buried his second goal.
Taiwan's first five matches in the second round followed the typical home-and-away round robin format in 2019, but the qualifying round was then suspended for 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the remaining games in the group are being played in Kuwait from June 3 to 15.
In the qualifiers played in 2019, Taiwan lost home matches to Jordan (2-1), Nepal (2-0) and Australia (7-1) and road matches to Kuwait (9-0) and Jordan (5-0).
The winners of the eight groups in Asia and four best runners-up will progress to the third round.
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