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Iraq beat Singapore in fractious match

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06 Sep 2011 15:30:21

Iraq beat Singapore 2-0 in their Asian World Cup qualifier Tuesday but wasted several chances in a foul-tempered match.

Newly-appointed Iraq coach and Brazilian legend Zico had lamented his side's propensity to squander goalscoring chances in a pre-match press conference, and the evidence was in full display at Singapore's Jalan Besar Stadium.

Iraq pressured the Singapore goal from the starting whistle, laying siege for long periods of the game, but wayward finishing and determined defending kept the scoreline level at halftime.

Iraq's persistence finally paid off in the 49th minute when forward Ala'a Abdulzehra put them ahead, heading an inswinging cross to the left corner of Singapore's goal and beating keeper Lionel Lewis.

Lewis, a replacement for injured goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, pulled off a string of vital saves throughout the match to prevent the scoreline from widening.

Singapore took the game to Iraq after conceding the first goal, but were unable to convert a series of golden opportunities.

And Iraq put the game away in the 85th minute after a seemingly innocuous chip by Iraqi striker Younus Mahmood sailed past a rooted Lewis and bounced into the goal.

Singapore team manager Eugene Loo said his team would continue to vie for advancement into the next round of the World Cup qualifiers despite their second loss in as many games.

"I think our boys tried very hard, they fought very hard... I think we gave them a good fight," he said.

"It's tough losing two games but its not over. I think our boys still got fight in them and we will not give up."

The match was a foul-tempered affair, with Iraq playing a physical game and felling the Singapore players with full-blooded challenges.

The home side also accused the Iraqis of time wasting and Singapore's frustrations came to a head in the 90th minute in the worst of three confrontations.

Two opposing players became involved in a shoving match after a member of the visiting side was brought down on the touchline and remained on the ground.

Almost all members of both teams then rushed to the touchline, but referee Tojo Minoru managed to defuse the situation before it got further out of hand.

The result means Singapore drop to last place in the standings as the only team with no points in the group.

Singapore coach Raddy Avramovich watched his side from the stands due to a one-match touchline ban after he was sent off in the opening game against China.

Also present was newly-elected Singapore president Tony Tan, who shook hands with players from both sides before the match commenced.


AFP

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