Late goals and drama marked Asia's matchday 5, with a trio of struggling sides reigniting their hopes with opening wins as the final qualifying round reached the crucial halfway point.
Group A pace-setters Korea Republic fell 1-0 to ten-man Iran, but maintain their place at the summit leading their opponents on goal difference. Also claiming their first three points were Uzbekistan, who edged hosts Qatar 1-0 to claw themselves back into contention. Join FIFA.com as we review these epic battles across Asia.
Late goals from Tim Cahill and Archie Thompson saw Australia come from behind to defeat Iraq in Doha. The victory came as a timely boost for Holger Osieck's side, who will look to reinforce their qualification hopes with a home win over Oman in the next outing. Zico's side meanwhile, are still left searching for their first win. All three goals came after the interval and it was the hosts who, having survived a first-half Australian onslaught went ahead. In a swift counter-attack, Iraq captain Younis Mahmoud headed a long ball into the path of Alaa Abdul Zahra, who fired a shot past Mark Schwarzer. The hosts' lead, though, lasted just eight minutes when Cahill headed his side level. The Socceroos proceeded to seal the contest with Thompson heading past Noor Sabri.
Boasting a proud record against Oman, Adnan Amad's Jordan side arrived in Muscat hoping to consolidate second spot in the group with a comfortable win. However, it was the hosts that prevailed to firmly put their campaign back on track. Oman coach Paul Le Guen had called for home support and indeed, his team were indebted to their 12th man who cheered them on throughout as they secured the three points.
After a fiercely-contested but goalless first-half, the Omanis fired on all cylinders after the restart. The breakthrough came just after the hour mark, when Ahmed Mubarak, unmarked, pounced onto a clearance to break the deadlock. Jumaa Darwish doubled the lead three minutes from time, but Thaer Bawab pulled one back for the Jordanians on 90 minutes. However, the visitors' hopes of a stoppage-time equaliser were shattered, with Amer Deeb's last-ditch effort disallowed for offside.
The other attractions
The first match staged in Doha ended in favour of Uzbekistan, who tasted their first win in the final group phase to keep their hopes alive. The Central Asians travelled to Qatar boasting a 2-0 win in last year's AFC Asian Cup. And in a sense, today's match was a carbon copy of the two sides' previous meeting in the continental finals, with the Uzbek's organisational play outshining the hosts' talented performances.
The hosts began brightly, but their offensive efforts came no avail against a tightly-knit Uzbek defence. Having weathered the hosts' storm, Mirdjalal Kasimov's visitors took the lead in surprising fashion, with in-form forward Sanjar Tursunov latching onto Anzur Ismailov's right-wing cross to score the match-winning goal.
Elsewhere, captain Javad Nekonam struck the only goal on 76 minutes as ten-man Iran defeated Korea Republic. With the outcome, Carlos Queiroz's hosts not only drew level with the section pace-setters on points, but also maintained their unbeaten record at home against the Taeguk Warriors.
Spurred on by a 100,000-strong home crowd at Tehran's Azadi Stadium, Team Melli enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the opening half, but the visitors had the best chance, with Kim Bokyung denied first by the crossbar then by 'keeper Seye Rahmati. Masoud Shojaei received his second yellow card eight minutes into second half but even his dismissal didn't prevent the determined hosts from attacking. After debutant Reza Ghoochannejhad went close with a spectacular overhead kick, Nekonam found the net with a fine half-volley to wrap up the triumph.
Threatening throughout with his relentless forward forays, Tim Cahill showed his goalscoring knack hasn't deserted him upon his move to New York Red Bulls, heading home the equaliser which turned the game on its head.
1 - Iran and Japan have the meanest defence in the campaign, having conceded a goal each from four outings.
What they said
"The 2-1 defeat of Jordan is a result we deserved. We demonstrated our responsibility and the entire team performed well throughout the game. The outcome is important for us to keep our hopes alive," Emad Al Hosni, Oman forward