Australia swept aside Qatar to make it maximum points from two games in Group 1 of Asian Zone qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, but Japan failed to follow suit with Uzbekistan drawing 1-1 in Saitama.
Tim Cahill's opener preceded a Brett Emerton double, before Joshua Kennedy sealed a convincing 4-0 win for the Socceroos in Brisbane. The Japanese, meanwhile, required a 40th-minute Keija Tamada equaliser to move them on to four points, after Maksim Shatskikh had fired their guests into a surprise early lead.
Heavy rain in the run-up to the match delayed kick-off, but there was nothing slow about Australia's start. Seven minutes in, Kennedy's neat flick afforded Cahill a shooting opportunity, and the attacking midfielder forced the Qatari defence into making a crucial block.
Just two minutes later, however, there was no stopping the Everton player's firm drive, which flew into the back of the net to put Pim Verbeek's team in front.
Cahill performed a leading role in his side's second goal, too, winning the penalty from which Brett Emerton doubled their lead on 17 minutes. Qatar goalkeeper Abdulaziz Abdulla did get a hand to the 29-year-old's spot-kick, but he was unable to keep it out.
Australia appeared content to protect their advantage throughout the remainder of the first half, but they shifted up a gear following the restart and made it 3-0 on 59 minutes. Kennedy's pass was met by an equally impressive finish by Emerton, effectively putting the game out of Qatar's reach.
Kennedy, a constant menace to Bruno Metsu's side, wrapped up victory with 14 minutes remaining, heading home Luke Wilshere's precise cross.
Qatar still had chances to snatch a consolation. Andres Quintana missed the best of these with the goal at his mercy, allowing Mark Schwarzer to keep his second straight clean sheet in Group 1.
The result moved Australia top of the section, and left Qatar on four points from three outings. "We've had two games, got six points, scored five goals and had no goals against," said Verbeek afterwards. "," he said.
I think we did well. We controlled, we waited for the right moment to use the strikers, and they did great
Japan have four points following their home draw, although they have a game in hand on Qatar, while Uzbekistan are on one point after their three matches.
Another double for Lee
Lee Keun-Ho emerged as the hero when Korea Republic strengthened their claims for a two-two finish in Group 2 and, crucially, a place at South Africa 2010. The 23-year-old scored twice in a friendly win over Uzbekistan on Saturday, and his latest double inspired a 4-1 reverse of United Arab Emirates in Seoul.
Manchester United winger Park Ji-Sung and defender Kwak Tae-Hee of Chunnam Dragons were also on target for the South Koreans, who moved on to four points from two matches. United Arab Emirates, whose goal came from Ismail Al Hammadi, were left bottom of the section with no points from a possible nine.
Elsewhere, Iran edged Korea DPR 2-1 to join their opponents, the inactive Saudi Arabia and Korea Republic, who are top of goal difference, on four points. Mehdi Mahdavikia and Javad Nekounam put the hosts 2-0 up in Tehran, before Jong Tae-Se's 71st-minute goal ensured a nervy finish.
Asian Zone qualifying results
Wednesday 15 October
Australia 4-0 Qatar
Japan 1-1 Uzbekistan
Iran 2-1 Korea DPR
Korea Republic 4-1 United Arab Emirates