Matchday 5 proved to be a mixed night for Asia’s traditionally successful sides after these giants showed differing form in their respective clashes. Japan and Korea Republic continued to excel with away victories against Syria and Kuwait, results which cemented their places as section favourites. Australia, though, disappointed after losing 2-0 in Jordan while Iran came from behind to salvage a point against hosts Oman.
Both China PR and Iraq saw their hopes severely dented after dropping points again, while Korea DPR lost ground, being held to a goalless draw by the Philippines at home. Conversely, Uzbekistan won comfortably in Bahrain while Saudi Arabia maintained their perfect record with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against United Arab Emirates at home. Join FIFA.com as we take a closer look.
Jordan 2-0 Australia
Hassan Abdel Fattah-pen 47', Hamza Aldaradreh 84'
Young forward Hamza Aldaradreh earned a penalty before scoring the match-winner as Jordan produced the day's biggest surprise by overcoming Australia at home, a result which saw them leapfrog the Socceroos to the Group B summit. Having stunned the same rivals on home soil on the road to Brazil 2014, the Jordanians maintained their impressive form in the Amman International Stadium by inflicting another defeat on the reigning AFC Asian Cup champions.
Defence and counter-attack tactics proved the key as Jordan came on top against the star-studded visitors. Spurred on by the home crowd, the Jordanians did well to keep the Australians at bay while threatening with fine moves. The opponents were, for their part, reduced to long passes which caused less danger. After a goalless first half, Saudi Arabia-based Aldaradreh earned a spot-kick from which Hassan Abdel Fattah gave the hosts the lead. Tim Cahill and Tomi Juric were substituted on as the visitors threw everything forward for an equaliser. However, they left too many holes at the back allowing livewire Aldaradreh to pounce onto a rebound to seal the win. Honours were, meanwhile, even in the other game as Kyrgyzstan drew 2-2 with Tajikistan at home.
The other attractions
In Group A, Mohammed Al Sahlawi completed a brace as Saudi Arabia edged past United Arab Emirates 2-1 and strengthened their grip on the section. In another game, Ahmad Abu Nahyeh cancelled out Ramon Saro's second-half opener with a stoppage-time strike as Palestine drew hosts Timor Leste 1-1, a result which maintained their third place position. Group C pace-setters Qatar continued their perfect campaign by defeating arch-rivals China 1-0 at home, Karim Boudiaf heading home the only goal off a free-kick as the hosts extended their cushion to five points. In the other game, captain Ali Ashfaq completed a hat-trick as Maldives edged hosts Bhutan 4-3.
Iran came from behind to draw 1-1 against hosts Oman as Team Melli maintained their slight lead in Group D on goal difference. Saad Al Mukhaini latched onto a cross to put the Omanis ahead after the interval only to see Jalal Hosseini equalise for the visitors with a late strike. Turkmenistan, meanwhile, edged past hosts India 2-1 with Guvanch Abylov and Arslanmyrat Amanow on target in each half.
Japan moved to the Group E summit at the expense of Syria after a 3-0 win in Oman. The Japanese took the lead shortly after the restart through Keisuke Honda’s spot-kick. Shinji Okazaki doubled the lead before Takashi Usami added icing on the cake as the Samurai Blue put the Syrians’ winning streak to a close. The section's other game saw Singapore reignite their hopes with a 1-0 home victory over Afghanistan, Amri Bin Mohammad scoring the only goal with a header.
Having been held to a 2-2 draw in Thailand in the last outing, Group F favourites Iraq saw their hopes further dented after drawing 1-1 against hosts Vietnam. And if the Iraqis thought they were unfortunate against the Thais, then they had Lady Luck to thank as they came from behind to salvage a point against the Vietnamese with captain Mahmoud Younis cancelling out Le Cong Vinh’s opener with a stoppage-time spot-kick.
Group G's top-of-the-table clash saw Korea Republic maintain their unblemished record with a 1-0 win against hosts Kuwait. Augsburg midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol scored the only goal inside 12 minutes as the Taeguk Warriors established a three-point cushion at the summit. In another game in the group, Hassan Maatouk and Abbas Atwi scored in each half as Lebanon overcame hosts Myanmar 2-0 to maintain their third place position. Elsewhere in Group H, Korea DPR wasted the golden chance of consolidating their lead after being held to a goalless draw by the Philippines at home, allowing Uzbekistan to get within a point of them with a resounding 4-0 victory in Bahrain.
Shinji Okazaki had a hand in two goals as Japan proved to be too much for Syria. The 29-year-old Leicester City forward earned a spot-kick from which Japan took the lead, an opener which tipped the evenly-contested game into their favour. The in-form striker went on to double the lead with his 47th international goal which crushed the opponents' hopes of a comeback.
Did you know?
Japan and Korea Republic are the only two teams that have yet to concede a single goal in Asia qualifying.
What they said
“The players lost their concentration in the match as they missed several scoring chances. The draw was like a defeat for us and our players struggled a lot. All things were against us as we missed several chances but the draw is still better than a defeat.” Palestine coach Abdel Nasser Barakat
Matchday 5 results:
Group A: Timor-Leste 1-1 Palestine; Saudi Arabia 2-1 United Arab Emirates
Group B: Kyrgyzstan 2-2 Tajikistan; Jordan 2-0 Australia
Group C: Bhutan 3-4 Maldives; Qatar 1-0 China PR
Group D: Turkmenistan 2-1 India; Oman 1-1 Iran
Group E: Singapore 1-0 Afghanistan; Syria 0-3 Japan
Group F: Vietnam 1-1 Iraq
Group G: Myanmar 0-2 Lebanon; Kuwait 0-1 Korea Republic
Group H: Korea DPR 0-0 Philippines; Bahrain 0-4 Uzbekistan