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Asian Cup: Iran and Iraq advance; Saudis on verge

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Iran and Iraq advanced to the knockout stages of the Asian Cup on Saturday with a game to spare.

Three-time champion Iran beat Vietnam 2-0 and secured its spot in the round of 16 when 2015 semifinalist Iraq beat Yemen 3-0 in another Group D game.

Another three-time champion, Saudi Arabia, moved closer to gaining its spot in the next round after beating Lebanon 2-0 in Group E.

With two wins each, Iran and Iraq meet in Dubai on Wednesday to decide the group winner.

Saudi Arabia meets Qatar on Thursday to close the group stage in a highly charged game amid the political tensions between the two nations.

The top two teams in each group and the four best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16.

It was a record ninth successive victory for Iran in Asian Cup group matches. Asia’s top-ranked team has dominated possession and looked comfortable in its opening two games, scoring seven goals without conceding.

Iran’s Sardar Azmoun took care of the goals against Vietnam, scoring in each half.

Saman Ghoddos crossed for the forward to put Iran ahead with a close-range header before halftime. Azmoun added his second in the 69th with a left-footed strike from the middle of the box for his third goal at the tournament.

Vietnam lost a second straight match after falling to Iraq 3-2.

Iran is led by former Real Madrid and Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz, who is chasing a major title with Iran after eight years in charge.

In Sharjah, Mohanad Ali Kadhim and Bashar Resan Bonyan scored with low shots from outside of the area early in the first half to give Iraq a comfortable advantage against Yemen. Substitute Alaa Abbas sealed it in second-half injury time.

Yemen and Vietnam are pointless and will fight for third place in Al Ain on Wednesday.

In Dubai, Fahad Al Muwallad opened the scoring 12 minutes into the game and Hussain Almoqahwi doubled the lead in the 67th.

With two wins from two, Saudi Arabia leads Group E with six points and could advance with a game in hand if North Korea fails to beat Qatar on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia won its opening two games at the Asian Cup for the first time since 1996, when it last won the title.

After two defeats, Lebanon faces a must win against North Korea to have a chance to make it to the next round.

The “other” Harry! Winks scores late for Spurs (video)

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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  • Fulham strikes first
  • Dele finds equalizer
  • Winks gets winner
  • Babel lively in FFC debut
  • Spurs with 73 percent possession

Harry Winks‘ goal in the third minute of stoppage time led Tottenham Hotspur past Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

It was Winks first goal since November 19, 2016 v. West Ham United.

Dele Alli scored and was injured in the win, which started with Fernando Llorente scoring an own goal.

Spurs are now nine points back of Liverpool, while Fulham has 14 points, seven behind 17th place Newcastle United.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs had most of the ball in the first 10 minutes, but Fulham came alive in spurts. New addition Ryan Babel worked Davinson Sanchez to earn a corner kick, and Denis Odoi sliced a chance wide off the set piece.

Fulham went deservedly ahead five minutes later, when Llorente’s vision was obscured on a corner kick and his reaction only prodded the ball into his net.

Sergio Rico saved a Llorente chance at the other end in the 23rd minute, as Spurs angled for an equalizer.

Fulham appeared to have made it 2-0 when Aleksandar Mitrovic nodded a rebund over the line in the 41st minute, but the Serbian striker was ruled offside.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

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Spurs leveled the score off a flub from American center back Tim Ream in the 52nd minute, with Christian Eriksen flicking a cross to Dele for the headed finish.

Danny Rose had a shot deflected off a sliding Odoi and hit the bar near the hour mark.

Llorente missed turning Rose’s free kick into the goal from near-sitter range in the 82nd minute, and was denied a penalty shout as the match entered stoppage time.

Asian Cup: Lippi’s China comes from behind; Vietnam advances (video)

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) China fought back from a goal down to beat Thailand 2-1 in the round of 16 of the Asian Cup on Sunday and avoid a potentially embarrassing upset.

Supachai Jaided put Thailand ahead in the 31st minute, turning and shooting despite being surrounded by three defenders, before Chinese striker Wu Lei missed a string of good chances.

World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi brought veteran Xiao Zhi off the bench in the 64th and three minutes later he scored the equalizer, knocking the ball into the net on the rebound from his own saved header.

[ MORE: Huddersfield Town 0-3 Man City ]

Gao Lin quickly added a second from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Chalermpong Kerdkaew. China goalkeeper Yun Junling averted extra time when he stopped Chalermpong’s fierce shot in stoppage time.

China will face either Iran or Oman in Thursday’s quarterfinal as it bids to end a 15-year absence from Asian Cup semifinals. China’s national team has often fallen short despite the country’s long-term ambitions of becoming a soccer superpower and the wealth of Chinese clubs. China has only qualified for the World Cup once, losing all its games in 2002, and lost its only Asian Cup final to Japan two years later.

Thailand, which got out of the Asian Cup group stage for the first time in 47 years, had caretaker coach Sirisak Yodyadthai in charge after firing Milovan Rajevac following its opening group-stage 4-1 loss to India.

Earlier Sunday, Vietnam surprised an on-form Jordan team on penalties to reach the quarterfinals.

The 20-year-old midfielder Bui Tien Dung stroked the winning penalty into the bottom-left corner as Vietnam won the shootout 4-2 after the game finished 1-1 following extra time. Vietnam took the initiative in the shootout after Jordan’s Baha Seif hammered a penalty onto the crossbar and Vietnam’s Russian-born keeper Dang Van Lam leapt to palm away Ahmed Salah’s shot.

Despite being nine places higher in the world rankings, Vietnam was something of an underdog given it had only once before played an Asian Cup knockout game and Jordan had beaten reigning champion Australia in the group stage.

Jordan took the lead in the 39th minute after referee Alireza Faghani gave a rare indirect free kick inside the penalty area for a high foot. After the slightest of touches from a teammate, Baha Abdel-Rahman blasted the ball into the net from a tight angle.

After struggling to create chances in the first half, Vietnam was more incisive after halftime. In the 51st, Nguyen Cong Phuong flicked teammate Nguyen Trong Hoang’s cross high into the net. Shortly after, a Jordan defensive blunder nearly gave Vietnam the lead but Anas Bani Yaseen rushed back to clear the ball off the line.

Vietnam will play either Japan or Saudi Arabia in its first Asian Cup quarterfinal since 2007.

It’s the first time the Asian Cup has had a last-16 round after expanding to 24 teams.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Guardiola: Man City “has to demand more from ourselves”

AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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Sunday’s 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town did not see Manchester City at its best, and the match didn’t require it, but manager Pep Guardiola was visibly perturbed by his side’s showing at the John Smith’s Stadium.

[ RECAP: Huddersfield 0-3 Man City ]

City led 1-0 at the break on a deflected Danilo strike but came to life with an improved second frame that saw them score in the 54th and 56th minutes.

They got what they earned, says Guardiola. That’s not a compliment. From the BBC:

“The way we played we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future. We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult. They defended deep and man to man.

“What we have done so far has been incredible, in the league and the Carabao Cup. We have an incredible number of points. But this game can teach us and show what we have to do to improve.”

Opening scorer Danilo admitted that City didn’t have the right intensity in the first half, while Leroy Sane said Pep put them right at halftime.

“He always tries to give us the solution and he did it again,” said Sane, who had a goal and an assist. “I think everyone could see in the second half it was much better.”

City starts a three-match week on Wednesday with the second leg of the League Cup semifinal at Burton Albion (City leads 9-0). It’s home to Burnley in the FA Cup on Saturday before visiting Newcastle on Jan. 29.

Sane stars, Man City cruises at Huddersfield Town (video)

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  • City back within four of Liverpool
  • Sane stars in win
  • Terriers 10 points back of safety

Leroy Sane scored a goal and added an assist as Manchester City cruised past Huddersfield Town 3-0 on Sunday at the John Smith’s Stadium.

City stays four points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, while Huddersfield Town caretaker manager Mark Hudson sees his side 10 points back of 17th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Raheem Sterling was not given a penalty in the 13th minute after a clumsy tackle in the box, one of a couple early shouts for Man City.

Danilo‘s goal came when his long distance rip was blocked by Christoph Schindler, the Terrier’s header bounding off the turf and wrong-footing Jonas Lossl.

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Sterling started a move outside the 18, then drifted inside the meet Leroy Sane’s cross with a pounded header to make it 2-0 in the 54th.

Then, pure brilliance, as City turned a Terriers turnover into the goal in four total touches. Danilo to Aguero to Sane for a settle and finish.

Town wasn’t without its chances, Steve Mounie lashing wide of the far post in the 79th minute and just missing a goal with the final kick of the game.