Wembley seemed a long way away last night as the Taiwan men’s soccer team were beaten 2-0 by Jordan in their London 2012 Olympic Games qualifier at Taipei Municipal Stadium.
Anas Abed Salem Aljabarat scored from close range in the first half and substitute Yousef Ahmad Mohammad Rawshdeh wrapped up the win in the 89th minute.
Jordan, playing a 4-4-2 formation, started the match on top, with Hamza al-Dardour looking particularly dangerous up front and the Taiwan defense looking uneasy despite the hosts playing five in midfield in a bid to protect their centerbacks.
However, it was Taiwan who had the first good chance of the game in the sixth minute when a mix-up in Jordan’s midfield presented the ball to Su De-cai, whose dipping shot from 30m hit the crossbar with Jordan goalkeeper Feras Emad Saleh Salem beaten.
Jordan replied two minutes later, when Khalil Zaid Baniateyah’s long-range volley was smartly saved by Taiwan goalkeeper Wei Sheng-hsin.
Jordan were on top and when South Korean referee Kim Sang-woo showed Taiwan’s Lin Hsiao-cheng a yellow card for a deliberate handball, the resulting free-kick was headed behind as Taiwan’s defense struggled to cope with Jordan’s threat in the air.
In the 21st minute Dardour’s cross into the box led to a goalmouth scramble and Wei saved from point-blank range to keep his side in the game.
In the 25th minute, Chan Che-yuan won Taiwan’s first corner, with Salem doing well to push away the resulting header on target.
However, three minutes later Jordan’s superiority told as Aljabarat fired home from a free-kick to give the hosts a mountain to climb.
Wei Pei-lun had a chance to equalize when he burst into the Jordan penalty-area on 35 minutes, but he tripped over the ball.
Taiwan brought Chen Hao-wei on for Lin Chang-lun and Chang Kai-hsiang saw his header saved by Salem in the 40th minute, but it was Jordan who came closest to extending their lead when Wei Sheng-hsin dived to his right to push away Saeed Murjan’s shot.
Taiwan came out in the second half knowing they needed to score, with Tseng Chih-wei replaced by Chiu I-huan during the break.
Taiwan saw much more of the ball at the beginning of the second period as they pushed for an equalizer, the hundreds of home supporters willing their side on at a noisy Municipal Stadium.
The noise levels were ratcheted up after 60 minutes when Chen Po-hao almost got on the end of a cross and with the hosts causing Jordan’s defense more problems than the first half, Chan’s rasping free-kick from 25m out just skimmed the post with Salem beaten.
Two minutes later it could have been all over when Jordan had the ball in Taiwan’s net, but the referee disallowed the effort, awarding the home side a free-kick and a reprieve.
Rawshdeh, brought on for Dardour in the 72nd minute, sealed the result in the 89th minute when he got on the end of a cross to head emphatically past Wei Sheng-hsin and then ran over to the bench to celebrate progressing to the next round.
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