South Korea secured its 10th straight World Cup qualification after beating Syria 2-0 in Dubai on Tuesday.

Kim Jin-su and Kwon Chang-hoon scored second-half goals as the Koreans cruised to a comfortable victory over an opponent bottom of Group A of the Asian qualifiers.

South Korea opened an 11-point lead over third-place United Arab Emirates with three dates remaining.

The first two of the two groups qualify directly for the World Cup in Qatar. The third will advance to a playoff whose winner will be measured against the fifth from South America.

In Group B, Takumi Minamino’s first-half strike put Japan on course to a 2-0 victory against Saudi Arabia at Saitama Stadium, taking the hosts another step towards reaching their seventh straight World Cup.

Minamino opened the scoring in the 31st minute by finishing from close range after a play by Junya Ito, the winger who plays for Belgian club Genk. Ito scored the second goal shortly after the restart with a shot from outside the box, sealing the Saudis’ first defeat in Group B of the Asian qualifiers.

Saudi Arabia, which would have qualified for its sixth World Cup with a win, remains at the top of the group with 19 points, one more than Japan. Australia could close with 17 to beat Oman later.

Bottom-placed Vietnam, who had lost all of their previous seven matches in Group B, beat China 3-1 in Hanoi. The defeat decreed the elimination of China.

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