Surprises dominated Tuesday's matchday 4 of Asia's final qualifying round for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, with heavyweights floundering and underdogs celebrating as a series of shock results unfolded across the continent.
In a sense, the day belonged to a pair of strugglers in Lebanon and Jordan, both of whom saw their already-diminishing hopes reignited by stunning Iran and Australia respectively. Uzbekistan, meanwhile, held leaders Korea Republic to a 2-2 draw to salvage a lifeline, while Japan were the only favourite side that came up with three points with a solitary-goal home defeat of Iraq. As every catches their breathe FIFA.com looks back over these showdowns.
Jordan put their previous 6-0 loss in Japan back in June behind them to overcome Australia 2-1 at home and put their campaign back on track. Cheered on by a fervent home crowd, Jordan pressed forward from the outset but the visitors had the first chance with Tim Cahill denied by Amer Shafia. On the other side, Amer Deeb looked dangerous on break while Brett Holman tested the hosts’ keeper as the two sides finished the first half goalless.
The Jordanians began the second period firing on all cylinders and their efforts paid off when Odai Alsaify earned a penalty, which Hasan Mahmoud converted, to put the hosts in front. The goal sparked the Socceroos into action but their woes continued when Jordan doubled the lead through Amer Deeb. Throwing everything forward, the visitors pulled one back through Archie Thompson with five minutes remaining but the goal proved too little, too late. The surprise win moves Jordan into second behind Japan and leaves Australia level with Iraq and Oman on two points.
Lebanon 1-0 Iran
Roda Antar 28
Lebanon captain Roda Antar was again the hero as his side produced one of the matchday's biggest surprises with a 1-0 home defeat of Iran. The Shandong Luneng midfielder, who turns 32 tomorrow, headed home the only goal off a Mohamad Haidar free-kick upon his return to the team, having missed the opening three games due to injury. The spirited victory not only marked the Cedars' first-ever win against Team Melli, but also brought the Iranians' 13-match unbeaten qualifying record to an end.
The home side also had goalkeeper Abbas Hassan to thank, whose Man of the Match performance between the posts earned them a hard-fought triumph. Having saved a Mohamed Noori header on hour-mark, the IFK Norrkoping custodian twiced denied Iran captain Javad Nekounam in the closing stages as his side hang on for a famous victory. The result saw the Lebanese draw level with the likes of Iran and Qatar on four points behind Korea Republic.
The other attractions
Iraq coach Zico arrived in Japan aiming to produce a Homeric miracle against his former side. The Brazilian manager made a series of startling changes to the line-up that drew 1-1 with Oman previously, including fielding six U-23 players. And his new-look side, full of youthful bravado, nearly caught the hosts out early on with both Ahmed Ibrahim and striking teenager Hammadi Ahmed coming close to opening the scoring. Having survived these early scares, Alberto Zaccheroni's hosts began to assert their authorities on the proceedings. The breakthrough came on 25 minutes when Ryoichi Maeda latched onto Shinji Okazaki’s volleyed cross to score the match-winning goal.
High-flying Korea Republic were lucky to leave Uzbekistan with a point. The Central Asians hosts began brightly, with captain Server Djeparov's in-swinging corner leading Ki Sungyueng to scoring an own goal early on. Having weathered the hosts' storm, the Taeguk Warriors drew level just before the break through Kwak Tae Hwi. The Uzbeks went on the offensive after the restart, but it was the visitors that took the lead against the run of the play through striking veteran Lee Dong Gook. That lead, however, proved short-lived as the home side equalised two minutes later through Sanjar Tursunov.
What they said
"It was a great victory, but we must forget it just like we forgot the previous ten matches, because there is no time for celebration. What we need to do now is to focus on preparation for the next game against Qatar." Lebanon captain Roda Antar