Son influential as Klinsmann’s South Korea wins another

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Son Heung-min scored two goals and set up another to help South Korea win its second straight game in World Cup qualifying, a 3-0 victory over China on Tuesday.

The Tottenham striker got his first from the penalty spot in the 11th minute at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre after Hwang Hee-chan was fouled in the area. Son scored his second just before halftime with a header near the post.

Jung Seung-hyun added the third with a header off a free kick from Son.

“China also had scoring opportunities,” said South Korea coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was appointed in February. “If we had conceded in front of 40,000 fans, it would have been really difficult. Scoring a goal lifted the atmosphere for us.”

South Korea is looking to qualify for the World Cup for the 11th straight time, while China is aiming to reach the tournament for only the second time.

The South Koreans lead Group C in Asian qualifying with six points, while China and Thailand have three points each. The Thais beat Singapore 3-1. Singapore has zero points.

The top two teams in each of the nine groups of four progress to the final group stage. Asia has eight automatic places at the expanded 2026 World Cup tournament, an increase of four from 2022.

Iran was held to a 2-2 draw by Uzbekistan in Tashkent, giving both teams four points in Group E.

Iran, which has appeared at six World Cups, led 2-0 on goals from Mehdi Taremi and Ramin Rezaeian. But Oston Urunov and Igor Sergeev earned a point for Uzbekistan.

Qatar, the host of last year’s World Cup, won its second game by beating India 3-0 in Group A.

Also, North Korea beat Myanmar 6-1, the Philippines drew 1-1 with Indonesia, and Iraq defeated Vietnam 1-0.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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