Jordan 1st to net knockout spot


Jordan’s Tareq Khattab celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal in Asian Cup action on Thursday night.

ReutersAL AIN, United Arab Emirates (Reuters) — Jordan handed neighbor Syria a 2-0 defeat on Thursday to become the first nation to book a berth in the knockout phase of the Asian Cup as host the United Arab Emirates strengthened its chances of advancing with victory over India.

Alberto Zaccheroni’s side beat the Indians 2-0 in the day’s late game to pick up its first win of the tournament and move to the top of the standings in Group A having already drawn with Bahrain.

India is second, level on three points with Thailand after Chanathip Songkrasin struck to earn the War Elephants a 1-0 win over the Bahrainis.

In Group B, the Jordanians outplayed and out-thought Syria — a shadow of the side that narrowly missed out on qualifying for last year’s World Cup — to notch up their second win after beating defending champions Australia on Sunday.

Vital Borkelmans’ side put on an impressive first half display to see off Bernd Stange’s team, taking the lead through Mousa Suleiman before Tareq Khattab added a second.

The win means Jordan, which faces the Palestinians in its final group game, cannot finish any lower than second.

“My guys made a great performance and tactically they were very good,” said Borkelmans. “The country can be proud of my players.”

Jordan has reached the knockout phase of the competition for the third time. The Emirates had goals from Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout to thank for boosting their campaign with victory over India.

Mubarak struck to put Zaccheroni’s team in front and Mabkhout added a decisive second 2 minutes from time.

Sunil Chhetri missed the chance to level the scores just before the break as India chased a second win in five days, while Udanta Singh hit the crossbar for Stephen Constantine’s side.

Thailand’s Chanathip was the hero for his side just days after coach Milovan Rajevac was fired following their opening loss to the Indians. The Consadole Sapporo midfielder smashed home his side’s winner just before the hour mark.

Barca loses without Messi, Suarez

VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) — Barcelona’s recent iron grip on the Spanish King’s Cup came under threat as they lost 2-1 at Levante in their last-16 first leg tie on Thursday after resting a host of first team regulars, including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Barca, who have won the last four editions of the Spanish Cup, fell behind in the fourth minute when slack marking from a free kick saw Erick Cabaco head home while Borja Mayoral, on loan from Real Madrid, doubled Levante’s lead in the 18th.

Substitute Jose Luis Morales spurned a glorious chance to strike a third goal for the home side that would have seriously damaged Barca’s hopes of staying in the competition.

But the Catalans got a huge boost heading into the second leg at the Nou Camp when Denis Suarez was fouled in the penalty area and record signing Philippe Coutinho converted the resulting spot-kick in the 85th minute.Speech

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