Australia thrashes Lebanon, advances in Asian qualifying tournament for World Cup


Australia thrashed Lebanon 5-0 and became the first team to advance to the third round of Asia qualifying for the 2026 World Cup on Tuesday.

An early goal from Kusini Yengi in Canberra sent the Socceroos on the way to a fourth successive win in Group I and ensured progress to the next stage with two matches to spare.

Palestine stayed second in the group after beating Bangladesh 1-0 and on course for a first appearance in the third round of qualifying.

With less than two minutes on the clock, the impressive Craig Goodwin crossed from the left for Yengi to score his first goal for Australia from close range.

Australia put the game beyond Lebanon in the first three minutes of the second half. Bassel Jradi knocked in an own goal following a corner and Goodwin fired home a third.

John Iredale came off the bench to make it 4-0 midway through the second half with his first international goal, and Goodwin added his second and Australia's fifth with nine minutes remaining thanks to an Iredale assist.

"It means the world to me personally, and to the boys," Iredale said. "We set out to score more goals tonight and we're pleased we did that.

"Craig Goodwin's got an unbelievable left foot, and having him in the squad really boosts our quality. I was really pleased to help him get his second goal."

Michel Termanini scored Palestine's winner in Dhaka four minutes into stoppage time.

Palestine has seven points, five more than Lebanon and six clear of Bangladesh.

Australia will be joined in the next stage by Iraq, which defeated the Philippines 5-0 in Manila to win a fourth straight game in Group F. Iran and Uzbekistan progressed from Group E thanks to respective wins over Turkmenistan and Hong Kong.

Son Heung-min scored for the second time in five days as South Korea defeated Thailand 3-0 in Bangkok. It was the first victory for Hwang Sun-hong, appointed as interim coach after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired in February.

"This was a difficult match, and the players came together as one and had a great desire to pull out this win," Hwang said. "We couldn't have won this match without the players' drive and determination."

Korea has appeared at every World Cup since 1986 and is top of Group C with 10 points, three clear of China — which beat Singapore 4-1 — and six above Thailand.

Saudi Arabia also has 10 points in Group G after drawing 1-1 in Tajikistan. Afghanistan defeated India 2-1 in Guwahati.

The North Korea-Japan qualifier in Pyongyang was canceled by FIFA after North Korea said it couldn't host the game.

The top two teams from each of the nine groups in the second round progress to the next group-stage round where six of Asia's increased automatic allocation of eight World Cup places will be on offer. The first 48-team men's World Cup will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Two more World Cup entries from Asia will be decided in a subsequent group stage in October 2025. An Asian confederation team also can advance in the intercontinental playoffs scheduled in March 2026.