A pair of new faces shone as Japan maintained their dominance with a hard-fought victory over Oman. Nurnberg midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake, on for injured Shinji Kagawa, put Alberto Zaccheroni's visitors ahead on 20 minutes with his first international goal. Ahmed Mubarak may have drawn the hosts level on 77 minutes, but second-half substitute Gotoku Sakai provided the decisive cross which led to Shinji Okazaki's match-winning goal a minute from time.
The hosts carved out more clear chances as they sought their first win against the Japanese. Coach Paul Le Guen's Red Warriors nearly broke the deadlock on ten minutes, too, with Fawzi Bashir agonisingly pulling his shot over with only the goalkeeper to beat. The Omanis were soon punished for the near-miss when Kiyotake latched onto Yuto Nagatomo's pull-back from the right to put his side ahead.
The home team would miss another glorious chance when Ismail Al Ajmi's glancing header rattled the upright. Cheered on by the home crowd, the hosts continued to press forward after restart, with Mubarak equalising from a free-kick to put the game on a knife’s edge. However, Sakai surged down the left to flick a venomous cross into the area, which was tapped home by Okazaki to settle the affair.
While few teams have left Tehran unscathed, Uzbekistan returned home in celebratory mood by inflicting their first-ever defeat on their hosts. Ulugbek Bakaev struck the match-winning goal as the visitors ended the Iranian jinx. The result moves coach Mirdjalal Kasimov's charges to the top of the section, a point clear of the Iranians, Qatar and Korea Republic, all of whom are level on seven points.
In a scrappy match at the intimidating Azadi Stadium, Carlos Queiroz's home side enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but they had few clear-cut opportunities. Mohammad Nori had a goal ruled out early on, before Karim Ansarifard saw his effort fly just over after the restart. With the hosts looking too anxious in front of goal, the visitors took a surprise lead when an unmarked Bakaev turned Server Djeparov's dipping free-kick home to silence the 100,000-strong home crowd and seal a famous triumph.
The other attractions
Striker Sebastian Soria eased a nation's worries by scoring the only goal as hosts Qatar scraped past Lebanon in Group A. The result not only extends the Qataris' unblemished head-to-head record to five wins, but also leaves them sharing second spot, level with Korea Republic on seven points.
With Theo Bucker's visitors content to defend, coach Paulo Autuori's home side were limited to three shots in the opening half despite pressing forward with gusto. The breakthrough finally came on 75 minutes, when an onrushing Soria caught keeper Abbas Hassanout, coolly firing into the top of net from 25 yards out.
Elsewhere, captain Noor Sabri put in a series of brave saves before teenage striker Hammadi Ahmed scored the only goal against Jordan four minutes from time as Iraq recorded their first win of the campaign.
The triumph leaves Zico’s side level with Australia and Oman on five points, with the Jordanians trailing by a point. With Japan boasting a massive eight-point cushion at the top, Group B looks likely to turn into a three-way battle for the second automatic qualifying spot.
3 - Three players - Okazaki, Younis Mahmoud and Hassan Abdel Fattah - are tangled for tournament top-scorer honours with seven goals apiece.
What they said
"I know this young squad doesn't have enough experience, but I always believe what they are capable on the pitch. Before the match I told them to focus on their play and to my pleasure, they performed well as an organised team," Iraq coach Zico.