Four sides entered Matchday 5 in the fourth round of Asian Zone qualifying desperately seeking their first victory, and three of them achieved just that to claw themselves back in to contention for places at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Uzbekistan climbed from bottom to third in Group A with a 1-0 success in Qatar, while Oman and Australia recorded 2-1 wins over Jordan and Iraq respectively to move on to five points from four games apiece in Group B.
‘Victory has saved Socceroos' World Cup campaign’ was the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald. With three of their remaining four fixtures at home, Australia coach Holger Osieck was understandably optimistic following the result in Doha.
"It is better to operate from the upper position rather than to chase the pack," the German told the country's leading newspaper. "I think we are back in the race after a poor performance in Jordan (Australia lost 2-1 last month). Today we showed a decent performance and great spirit.
"We have finished the first part of qualifying with three very difficult road games and we managed to stay in the second position, which means we [would] qualify automatically. So now that we have the home games, that definitely gives us a better base for the upcoming games.”
Cahill's brilliant header was typical of what he's done so often for the Socceroos over the past decade.
Canberra Times, meanwhile, paid tribute to Tim Cahill, who cancelled out Alaa Abdul Zahra's opener, and substitute Archie Thompson, who netted the winner.
It wrote: "Cahill's brilliant header was typical of what he's done so often for the Socceroos over the past decade. Thompson's freshness proved critical, turning around what seemed a potentially disastrous night for Australia just minutes before."
Oman’s home victory left them third in their pool, only behind Australia on goal difference. The Oman Tribune wrote: “Oman took another step towards the 2014 FIFA World Cup after beating Jordan 2-1. The victory has left the race to reach the finals in Brazil wide open.”
Oman coach Paul Le Guen told the Oman Daily Observer: "I'm very happy with the result but the work is still only half done.”
Autuori calls for thought
In Group B, Iran pulled level on points with leaders Korea Republic by overcoming a numerical disadvantage to beat them 1-0 in Tehran, with captain Javad Nekounam scoring the only goal. "Ten-man Iran beat giants Korea Republic" was the headline in the Tehran Times, while Press TV hailed a "sweet victory".
Uzbekistan moved two points behind Korea Republic and Iran thanks to victory in Qatar, whose coach Paulo Autuori urged his charges to learn from defeat.
"We can’t become winners if we don’t realise why we lost," the Brazilian told Qatar's Gulf Times, "We need to analyse that loss and work harder. “We should now focus on the next match against Lebanon. We still have the chance to take the second place.”