There were no big surprises across Asia on Matchday 4 with the majority of heavyweights cruising to victories. The likes of Australia, Iran and Korea Republic all won comfortably by identical 3-0 scorelines while Japan fired six unanswered goals past Afghanistan. Syria and Kuwait also maintained their perfect run, while both China PR and Jordan bounced back to winning form.
Iraq, though, threw away a two-goal lead as they shared the spoils with Thailand in a 2-2 stalemate. Fellow 2015 AFC Asian Cup side United Arab Emirates, too, stumbled after being held to a goalless tie by hosts Palestine. FIFA.com takes a look back at the action across the continent.
Philippines 1-5 Uzbekistan
Stephan Schrock 68'; Odil Akhmedov 1', Sardor Rashidov 14', 80', Igor Sergeev 43', 65'
It seemed the Philippines' early form flattered to deceive as the Azkals suffered their first loss in this campaign in forgettable fashion. The hosts entered the match as hopefuls on the back of two opening victories against Yemen and Bahrain. But it was the visitors that claimed 'favourites' status by running riot in rainy conditions. Indeed, the experienced Uzbeks caught the home side by surprise by taking the lead inside a minute, captain Odil Akhmedov opening the scoring through what proved to be the fastest goal so far this campaign.
Midfielder Sardor Rashidov doubled the advantage by cooly curling past goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, before Igor Sergeev struck before the break to make it 3-0. The Pakhtakor young striker would put the game beyond any doubt by completing a brace five minutes past the hour mark. Substitute Stephan Schrock may have pulled one back for the hosts with a free-kick but their hopes of a comeback were crushed when an unmarked Rashidov sealed the resounding triumph with his second ten minutes from time. The other match in Group H saw Bahrain salvage a lifeline by defeating hosts Yemen 4-0 for their first win.
The other attractions
In Group A, Palestine stole the show as they brought United Arab Emirates’ winning streak to an abrupt end. It is Palestine’s third FIFA World Cup™ qualifying draw at home as they have remained undefeated at the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium. The other match between hosts Malaysia and Saudi Arabia was abandoned due to crowd incidents in the closing stages. Saudi Arabia had a 2-1 lead.
In Group B, Australia made it three wins out of three with a comfortable 3-0 victory in Tajikistan. After a goalless first half, the visiting Socceroos exploded into life with Mark Milligan breaking the deadlock on 57 minutes. Tim Cahill went on to shine by scoring a brace including netting a stoppage-time goal as his side maintained their smooth run. In the other match, midfielder Abdallah Deeb completed a brace as Jordan thrashed hosts Bangladesh 4-0.
In Group C, Qatar followed up their record 15-0 win against Bhutan with a narrow 3-2 victory in Hong Kong as the 2022 World Cup hosts maintained their perfect run. The visitors were three goals up on 84 minutes courtesy of goals from Karim Boudiaf, Abdelkarim Hassan and Mohamed Musa. With just six minutes left, though, the home side hit back by scoring two quick-fire goals as they nearly stunned the Qataris. In the other game, Yu Dabao netted a brace in China's 3-0 win over Maldives.
It became a three-way battle in Group D after this matchday with Oman, Guam and Iran level with seven points each. Despite being hammered by Iran 6-0 in the last outing, Guam fought back to hold Oman to a goalless draw as the tiny Pacific nation maintained their undefeated record at home. The Iranians, meanwhile, swept past hosts India 3-0 courtesy of goals from Sardar Azmoun, Andranik Teymourian and Mehdi Taremi.
In Group E, Syria and Japan fired six unanswered goals past hosts Cambodia and Afghanistan each but it was the West Asians that maintained their two-point cushion at the top. Dramatic moments marked Group F, though, with both Thailand and Vietnam stealing points with late goals. In the process, the Vietnamese needed a stoppage-time strike from substitute midfielder Tran Phi Son as they edged hosts Chinese Taipei 2-1. Even more notable were the Thais who scored twice in the space of three minutes as they came from two goals down to claim a draw with Iraq at home. The precious point saw Thailand remain at the summit, three points clear of the Iraqis.
In Group G, Korea Republic and Kuwait continued to share the lead with a successive win each. The Taeguk Warriors avenged their previous 2-1 defeat and 1-1 draw in Beirut with a 3-0 win against Lebanon while the Kuwaitis inflicted a 2-0 defeat on hosts Laos.
Iraq may be left bemoaning their squandered 2-0 lead, but their fans are all too clear that tribute should be paid to captain Mahmoud. In what proves to be his fourth World Cup qualifying campaign, the veteran forward has maintained his goal-scoring prime despite being 32 years old. He opened his account for this campaign against Chinese Taipei before scoring his tenth qualifying goal in the match against Thailand.
Did you know?
A sextet of teams have yet to concede a goal this campaign. Korea Republic, Japan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, China and Syria all have zeros in their Goals Against columns.
What they said
"We achieved what we came for in Bangladesh. Winning the match should be great value for us after the draw in the last game. It provides us with a timely boost ahead of next month's showdown against Australia." Jordan coach Paul Put
Matchday 4 results:
Group A: Malaysia 1-2 Saudi Arabia (Abandoned); Palestine 0-0 United Arab Emirates
Group B: Bangladesh 0-4 Jordan; Tajikistan 0-3 Australia
Group C: Maldives 0-3 China PR; Hong Kong 2-3 Qatar
Group D: India 0-3 Iran; Guam 0-0 Oman
Group E: Afghanistan 0-6 Japan; Cambodia 0-6 Syria
Group F: Thailand 2-2 Iraq; Chinese Taipei 1-2 Vietnam
Group G: Lebanon 0-3 Korea Republic; Laos 0-2 Kuwait
Group H: Yemen 0-4 Bahrain; Philippines 1-5 Uzbekistan