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Stats Wrap: Matchday Two

Monday, June 25, 2018

Kuala Lumpur: There were mixed fortunes for Asia’s five representatives at the FIFA World Cup on Matchday Two as Australia and Japan claimed well-earned draws, while Islamic Republic of Iran, Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia suffered narrow defeats. 

Australia fans

With the second round of fixtures now done and dusted and Matchday Three already upon us, the-AFC.com picks out some of the most noteworthy facts and figures in the second of our World Cup Stats Wraps.

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Keisuke’s class



Japan’s Keisuke Honda had a day to remember on Sunday as the forward came off the bench to score what could well prove to be the goal that will see the Samurai Blue progress to the last 16 for the third time.



The Mexico-based forward’s strike carried extra significance, too, as it means he has now scored in three FIFA World Cups following goals against Cameroon and Denmark in 2010 in South Africa and Ivory Coast four years later in Brazil.


Shoot on sight



Son Heung-min had more shots on goal than any other player across Asia’s five teams, with the Korea Republic forward posting four strikes against Sweden, two of which were on target and one being his stunning late goal in the 2-1 defeat.



Australia’s Mathew Leckie had three attempts on goal, while Takashi Inui deserves a special mention as the midfielder registered Japan’s first goal against Senegal and later hit the crossbar with a wonderful curling effort.


The creators



Son also delivered when it came to creating chances with the Korean providing his teammates with goalscoring opportunities a matchday high four times in a loss that means the East Asians need victory against Germany to stand any chance of advancing.



Saudi Arabia’s Salman Al Faraj and Australia’s Aaron Mooy were second on the list, creating three chances apiece, while Inui (pictured) earns more praise as Real Betis man added to his goal by assisting Keisuke Honda’s equaliser.


Busy Burayk



Mohammed Al Burayk had a busy game down the right flank against Uruguay as the full-back delivered nine crosses into the opposition penalty area in a 1-0 defeat that ultimately led to Saudi Arabia’s elimination with a game to spare.



The Al Hilal player’s tally was not only a matchday high among his Asian counterparts, but it was also the joint second highest total posted so far in the World Cup, with only Germany’s Joshua Kimmich’s 13 against Mexico on Matchday One above Al Burayk’s nine.


Battling performance



Iran produced some outstanding defending in the narrow 1-0 defeat to 2010 winners Spain, throwing their bodies on the line to make a total of seven blocks – four more than Japan and Saudi Arabia – in a performance that will give hope ahead of Monday’s crucial game with Portugal.



Twelve interceptions was also higher than any other Asian Football Confederation team as Carlos Queiroz’s men showed discipline and organisation to thwart the Spanish time and again, only to lose out to a fortuitous Diego Costa goal.


Aerial threat



Mathew Leckie put in a fine display in Australia’s 1-1 draw with Denmark that means the Socceroos still harbour realistic hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds for the second time and first since 2006.



The Germany-based wide man won more aerials (8) than any other player from an Asian team, including the one that led to Yussuf Poulsen handling inside the box as Australia levelled the game from the ensuing spot kick.


Keeping active



For the second successive round of fixtures, no goalkeeper from the Asian teams made more saves than Mat Ryan’s five in Australia’s game against the Danes to mean he has now made nine saves in two matches.



Eiji Kawashima (pictured) matched the Socceroo, though, with the Japanese custodian also pulling off five saves in the 2-2 draw with Senegal after recovering from an early mistake that saw the West African side take the lead.


Hope springs eternal



And finally, after two rounds of fixtures, four of the five Asian teams maintain at least some hope of qualifying for the knockout rounds, with only Saudi Arabia having their elimination confirmed already.



Korea Republic and Australia must beat Germany and Peru respectively and hope results elsewhere go their way, Iran will advance should they defeat Portugal and Japan need just a point from their match with Poland to progress.

Photos: Getty Images

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