Soccer-Tajikistan beat Mongolia 3-0 as Asian qualifiers resume

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(Reuters) - Tajikistan handed bottom side Mongolia a 3-0 defeat in Dushanbe on Thursday as the second round of Asia's World Cup qualifying campaign resumed on Thursday after an almost 18-month pause.

Matches in the continent's preliminaries for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar had been halted since November 2019 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manuchekhr Dzhalilov opened the scoring for the Central Asian side with a header in the third minute before Alisher Dzhalilov doubled the home team's advantage five minutes after the restart when he swept the ball home from close range.

Shahrom Samiev added a third three minutes from time when he side-footed in from close range as Mongolia's slim hopes of reaching the next round of qualifying were extinguished.

The win moves Tajikistan to 10 points from six games, two behind Group F leaders Japan who have played four matches. Kyrgyzstan are third on seven points after five games ahead of Myanmar with six points also from five.

Mongolia visit Japan to face Hajime Moriyasu's four-time Asian champions in Chiba on March 30, while Tajikistan will face the Japanese side in their next game on June 7.

The eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the third round of Asian qualifying for Qatar 2022.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Ken Ferris)