As history would have it, the opening leg of Asia's second qualifying round for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil served to illustrate the gulf in class that exists between the continent's underdogs and big boys, with the majority of favourites cruising to emphatic victories to put a foot into the next stage.

Notably, West Asian powerhouses underlined their superiority over their respective opponents, with Asia's fourth-ranked Iran putting four unanswered goals past Maldives, while the Gulf quartet of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates each prevailed 3-0 over their rivals. Jordan produced the biggest win by crushing Nepal 9-0 and Lebanon managed a 4-0 home triumph against Bangladesh.

But there were close ties too, with Turkmenistan held to a 1-1 draw by Indonesia, while both Thailand and Syria won their respective home matches with Palestine and Tajikistan by the slightest of margins, leaving both contests still open. relives some of the finest moments from the first legs.

The game
Singapore 5-3 Malaysia
One of Asia's oldest rivalries, the two sides' 58th meeting ended in favour of Singapore, whose 5-3 home win improved their head-to-head victories to 22 - two more than Malaysia. The visitors got off to a dream start with Mohd Safee Mohd Sali opening the scoring inside a minute. The lead, however, lasted just seven minutes before veteran striker Aleksandar Duric flashed home a free-kick to draw the hosts level. Goals from Qiu Li and Fahrudin Mustafic then gave the home side a 3-1 first-half lead. 

After Shi Jiayi extended their advantage shortly after the restart, the battle intensified with both sides reduced to ten men. However, it was the Malayan Tiger's turn to roar, with Abdul Hadi Yahya reducing the deficit on 70 minutes before Mohd Sali completed a brace to put the game on a knife-edge. With so much at stake, Duric duly struck the match-winner nine minutes from time.

The surprise
China PR 7-2 Laos
Despite winning their opener by a significant margin, hosts China PR were made to sweat throughout the opening half against a side that are ranked 99 places below them. Soukaphone Vongchiengkham put the visitors ahead after five minutes before Visay Phaphouvanin doubled the advantage on the half-hour mark.

After striker Yang Xu pulled one back for the hosts during first-half injury time, the tide turned when midfielder Chen Tao struck shortly after the restart to draw China level. Yang went on to put the hosts ahead before netting his third 17 minutes from time. The remainder of the game belonged to the Chinese, with Hao Junmin adding a fifth before Chen made it 6-2 with his second goal. Hao rounded off the resounding win with a penalty in added time.

The other attractions
The four ASEAN-West Asia derbies ended with three wins to one in the latter's favour. Despite prevailing 13-1 on aggregate against Macau, Vietnam were found struggling against Qatar. Defensive duo Mohamed Kasoula and Meshal Mubarak were on target in each half to give the hosts a 2-0 lead, before forward Yousef Ahmed struck on 68 minutes to seal the Gulf side's first victory under coach Milovan Rajevac.

Philippines, despite employing a defensive approach, failed to prevent Kuwait from recording a comfortable win. After Yousef Al Sulaiman broke the deadlock on 16 minutes, Mesaed Neda doubled the lead after 68 minutes before Fahad Al Ebrahim put the icing on the cake with six minutes to go.

Myanmar, too, disappointed in their debut second round appearance, failing to produce an answer to Oman's two goals by Amad Ali Al Hosni and Ismail Al Ajmi. In more than one respect, the single goal scored by Thailand midfielder Jakkaphan Kaewprom against Palestine was precious - it not only secured ASEAN's sole victory over the West Asians, but also made sure coach Winfried Schaefer got his tenure off to a positive start.

South Asia's three representatives, likewise, fared no better. India went down to United Arab Emirates in a drama-filled match during which they were reduced to nine men. At the opposite end, capitalising on their numerical advantage, the hosts took a 2-0 first-half lead with two penalties courtesy of Hamdan Al Kamali and Mohamed Al Shehhi, before Ismail Al Hammadi put the seal on the win with a late strike.

While Bangladesh conceded four unanswered goals against Lebanon, Nepal were put to the sword by Jordan. Striker Hassan Abdel-Fattah struck four times while Amer Deeb and Ahmad Hayel each bagged a brace as the Hashemite Kingdom ran riot.

Elsewhere, goals from Hawar Mulla Mohammed and Alaa Abdul Zahra were enough for Iraq to see off Yemen in an all-West Asian affair, while Uzbekistan made light work of neighbours Kyrgyzstan with a 4-0 home win.

The player
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz was rewarded for his decision to call up veteran midfielder Ali Karimi, with the former Bayern Munich playmaker providing the attacking sparks from midfield, before going on to score the third goal in their 4-0 crushing of Maldives.

The stat
60 - is the total number of goals scored during the first legs, an average of four goals per game.

What they said
“I am an optimistic man. If we can score two goals and we don't concede any to Singapore then we can make it through. There are 90 minutes left and we are not without hope,” Malaysia coach Rajagobal Krishnasamy

Second round, first legs
23 July
Thailand 1-0 Palestine
Lebanon 4-0 Bangladesh
China PR 7-2 Laos
Turkmenistan 1-1 Indonesia
Kuwait 3-0 Philippines
Oman 2-0 Myanmar
Saudi Arabia 3-0 Hong Kong
Iran 4-0 Maldives
Syria 2-1 Tajikistan
Qatar 3-0 Vietnam
Iraq 2-0 Yemen
Singapore 5-3 Malaysia
Uzbekistan 4-0 Kyrgyzstan
United Arab Emirates 3-0 India
Jordan 9-0 Nepal