Korea Republic were the only victors from Matchday 3 of Asia's final qualifying round for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, thrashing Lebanon 3-0 at home to comfortably top Group A with six points.
The other three matches ended in stalemates, but Japan enjoy a five-point cushion at the summit of Group B despite being held to a 1-1 draw in Australia. The Socceroos meanwhile are left searching for their first win of the round and face a three month wait before their next outing where they head to Jordan.
Iraq and Oman, meanwhile, shared the spoils by an identical scoreline as they finished the opening phase with two points apiece. Elsewhere, a goalless affair in Tehran left both Iran and Qatar sharing second place level on four points behind Korea Republic. Join FIFA.com as we take a close look at the action across Asia.
Asian final qualifying round, matchday 3 results:
Group A: Iran 0-0 Qatar, Korea Republic 3-0 Lebanon
Group B: Australia 1-1 Japan, Iraq 1-1 Oman
Australia 1-1 Japan
Luke Wilkshire 70 (PEN); Yuzo Kurihara 65
In a rematch of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup final, failed finalists Australia and eventual champions Japan presented a true classic in Brisbane which saw drama, two red cards and a pair of goals including a penalty. It proved to be an open battle right from the outset, with the ball flowing from end to end. Alberto Zaccheroni's visitors showed patience in attack, weaving their opportunities with their trademark fluid play. It was Holger Osieck’s hosts, however, that missed a golden chance on 19 minutes, Alex Brosque seeing his point-blank effort inexplicably blocked.
The balance was suddenly tipped in Japan’s favour ten minutes after the restart, when Mark Milligan, who replaced Mark Bresciano early in the first half, received his marching orders for a second caution. It took the Japanese only ten minutes to turn the numerical advantage into scoreboard superiority, Keisuke Honda coolly crossing for Yuzo Kurihara to tap in from close range. One man short and a goal down, the Socceroos were down but not out. The equaliser materialised five minutes later in unexpected fashion, Luke Wilkshire drawing the team's level with a spot-kick which lifted the 40,000-strong home crowd to their feet. With Japan also reduced to ten men with Kurihara’s dismissal a minute from time, a point came as a fitting end to what had been a tense, but epic meeting.
Iraq 1-1 Oman
Younis Mahmoud 37 (PEN); Mohammed Al Balushi 8
Oman have built a proud head-to-head record against Iraq over recent years, with Paul Le Guen's unfancied visitors leaving Doha with a point to kept their qualifying hopes alive. Entering the game with a goalless draw against Australia, the Omanis’ early efforts yielded the opening goal. From a right-winged free-kick, Mohammed Al Balushi out-jumped his rivals to head the visitors ahead on eight minutes.
The goal sparked Zico's Iraq into life thereafter, and they drew level before the break through talisman Younis Mahmoud, who sent Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi the wrong way from the spot. The Iraqis went on the offensive in the second half, though the underdogs looked dangerous on the break, with Ahmed Mubarak flashing a free-kick just wide of the far post. Neither side could carve out any clear-cut chances in the closing stage, with Oman largely content to return home with an away point.
The other attractions
In Goyang, an unstoppable Korea Republic made it two wins from as many starts, avenging their previous 2-1 defeat in Lebanon by putting three unanswered goals past the west Asians. Kim Bo-Kyung opened the scoring on the half-hour, burying a volley from a Lee Keun-Ho cross to open his international account. The Cerezo Osaka midfielder proceeded to complete a brace shortly after the interval, before Koo Ja-Cheol capitalised on a defensive error to put the icing to the cake with a last-minute strike.
Neither Iran nor Qatar could find the target as the two rivals settled for what proved to be their third draw of Brazil 2014 qualifying, having seen their two-legged meetings from the previous stage both end in stalemates. Urged on by a raucous home crowd at Tehran's Azadi Stadium, the hosts were first to threaten and Javad Nekonam should have done better than hit the crossbar on the half-hour. The visitors quickly responded as Junior Marcone forced Iran goalkeeper Seyed Rahmati into a fine save with a powerful header. The contest descended into a scrappy affair as the second half wore on, which only produced half-chances, as the match ended goalless.
Younis Mahmoud’s equaliser came as a double reward for the Iraq captain, which not only earned a point for his team, but also saw him level the seven-goal leading Asian tally in Brazil 2014 qualifying set by Vietnamese marksman Le Cong Vinh.
3 - Three goals were scored from set pieces, accounting for nearly half of the seven goals of the matchday.
What they said
"The Koreans deserved to win but we were also better than last time out. Like I said many times before, we’re not able to compare ourselves to the Koreans – they are far ahead of us. We’re satisfied to have reached the final round but this is a whole new level for us," Lebanon coach Theo Bucker