Iraq saw off Jordan 1-0 in Brisbane on Monday thanks to a piece of brilliance from Swindon Town’s Yaser Kasim.
The England-based midfielder bought the crowd to life in the 77th minute when he slalomed into the box, his left footed effort finding the back of the net thanks to a slight deflection from Tareq Zeyad, giving keeper Amer Shafi no chance.
With Japan expected to finish top of Group D, this match was seen as crucial in determining which of the two nations would finish second. Thanks to tonight’s three points, Iraq are now firmly in the box seat.
In a match of few chances, veteran striker Younis Mahmoud had the best chance of the first half after 15 minutes when he was found by Kasim, but his shot was well blocked by Tareq.
Iraq threatened to split open the Jordanian defence a number of times, but were let down by a lack of composure, touch and class in the final third. Winger Amjad Kalaf was lively on the right hand side, but he had few friends in the first half.
Jordan, meanwhile, showed why they are without a win in 10, struggling to find any cohesion and went to half time completing only 82 passes. Too often they relied on the long ball, but the Iraqi defence had their measure and cleaned up everything that came their way.
As both teams chased the win the game opened up slightly in the second half and Jordan almost took the lead when Iraqi defender Ahmad Ibrahim almost headed the ball into his own net.
Colombus Crew attacker Justin Meram was introduced just before the hour mark and was lively in attack for Iraq causing problems for the Jordanian defence, making a strong case for a start in their next fixture.
Just when it looked like the match would end 0-0, Kasim, a standout throughout, stood up to deliver the knockout blow.
The night went from bad to worse for Jordan in the 84th minute when defender Anas Bani Yassen was shown a second yellow and given an early shower.
Jordan will now head to Melbourne to take on Palestine looking to keep their tournament alive while Iraq take on the might of defending champions Japan, in Brisbane again, on Friday night.