Hong Kong fans turned their backs to the Chinese national anthem once again but supported their team and were rewarded with a first win in Asian qualifying, 2-0, over Cambodia, on Tuesday.
Before the match, home fans jeered and turned their backs to the pitch as the Chinese national anthem played. Fifa fined the Hong Kong Football Association $15,000 following a similar incident before the September 10 match against Iran.
On Tuesday, James Ha put the hosts ahead with a close-range half-volley in the 21st minute.
Cambodia, under pressure for most of the match, were reduced to 10 men in the 78th minute when Soeuy Visal was sent off after flicking the ball out of the goalkeeper’s hands to collect a second yellow card.
Despite the disparity in numbers, the hard-working Roberto Affonso Junior was still surrounded by four Cambodian defenders when he spun on the edge of the box five minutes later and curled the ball into the net.
Hong Kong have five points in Group C, while Cambodia stayed bottom with one.
Iraq, playing against Bahrain at the neutral venue of the Amman International Stadium in Jordan, remained on top of Group C with 11 points despite being held to a goalless draw.
Across town, at the King Abdullah II International Stadium, Jordan secured the biggest win of the day when they beat Chinese Taipei 5-0. Jordan moved level with Kuwait in Group B at 10 points, two behind leaders Australia who have played one fewer match.
Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, secured their third successive win in Group E with a 1-0 away triumph over a battling Afghanistan. The all-important goal at the neutral venue in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, was scored by forward Akram Afif when he converted a penalty in the 76th minute.
Also in Group E, Oman beat India 1-0 with a goal by Mohsin Al Ghassani in the 33rd minute. Oman have 12 points from five matches, one behind the Qatar. India, who needed a win to keep their hopes alive, are fourth behind Afghanistan with three points from three draws in five matches.
In Group G in Kuala Lumpur, Safawi Rasid brought joy to Malaysia with goals on either side of the break. The 2-0 win, in front of 80,000 fans, moved the hosts to second place in the group with three wins and nine points.
Vietnam, who lead the group with 11 points, were held to a goalless draw by Thailand in Hanoi.
The next round of matches is scheduled for March 26.