Another day, another set of shocks. Guam and the Philippines continued their fairytale starts to Asian Zone qualifying on Matchday 2, while continental colossuses Japan and Iran were held to unforeseen draws by Singapore and Turkmenistan.
By contrast, Australia, Korea Republic and United Arab Emirates won on their travels, while China PR and Palestine both delivered 6-0 thrashings. FIFA.com reviews the action.
Guam 2-1 India
Brandon McDonald 38, Travis Nicklaw 60; Sunil Chhetri 90+3
Guam, a nation of just 150,000 inhabitants, were the overwhelming underdogs against the world’s second-most populous country – especially given that India had won the teams’ last encounter 4-0 in 2013. Gary White’s team nevertheless proved that their opening 1-0 defeat of Turkmenistan was no flash in the pan to establish a three-point cushion at the summit of Group D, which also features Iran and Oman. Guam featured a largely USA-based line-up and former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Brandon McDonald headed them in front. San Diego State Aztecs defender Travis Nicklaw made it 2-0 on the stroke of the hour, leaving Sunil Chhetri's stoppage-time effort as a mere consolation. In the section's another match, Sardar Azmoun's early goal put Iran en route to a victory many assumed was a foregone conclusion, only for Ruslan Mingazow to snatch Turkmenistan a point.
The other attractions
Group A favourites United Arab Emirates got off to a winning start, downing hosts Timor-Leste 1-0. However, the AFC Asian Cup 2015 semi-finalists were made to sweat before Omar Abdulrahman netted the only goal after 80 minutes. Palestine had no such trouble, with Tamer Seyam and Samed Maraaba scoring doubles apiece in a 6-0 success in Malaysia.
Captain Mile Jedinak struck early and Tommy Oar was also on target as reigning Asian champions Australia got their Group B campaign off on the right footing with a 2-1 victory in Kyrgyzstan. Elsewhere, Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev struck the equaliser with two minutes remaining as Tajikistan drew 1-1 away to Bangladesh.
In-form striker Yang Xu hit a hat-trick as China thumped hosts Bhutan in their Group C curtain-raiser. Hong Kong, meanwhile, maintained their perfect record, seeing off Maldives 2-0 courtesy of a two quick-fire goals after the break.
Japan were on the wrong end of a huge upset in Group E, drawing 0-0 with a Singapore whom they had beaten in each of their previous five qualifiers. Vahid Halilhodzic's star-studded side laid siege to their adversaries’ goal throughout, but Bernd Stange's visitors defended resolutely and Keisuke Honda’s free-kick, which came back off the crossbar, was the closest the hosts came to scoring. Across the pool, Cambodia lost at home to Afghanistan 1-0, with Mustafa Zazai the solitary marksman.
Teerasil Dangda struck a brace in the opening half as Thailand sank hosts Chinese Taipei 2-0 in Group F. The result, coupled with their 1-0 opening win over Vietnam, provided the section leaders with a six-point cushion heading into their next fixture against Iraq in September.
Lee Jaesung and Son Heungmin scored in each half as Korea Republic got off to smooth start with a 2-0 victory in Myanmar. In another match. Group G rivals Lebanon bounced back by defeating hosts Laos by the identical scoreline.
Elsewhere, Korea DPR beat Uzbekistan 4-2 to make it maximum points from two outings. Joining the Chollima at the top of Group H were the Philippines, who sprang another surprise by defeating hosts Yemen 2-0 courtesy of second-half goals from Misagh Bahadoran and Iain Ramsay.
Sinapore impressed as a unit against Japan, but there was no denying goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud stood out particularly with his sharp reflexes and bravery. Having repeatedly frustrated the Japanese attackers in the first half, the 24-year-old acrobatically blocked a header turning over Honda's header.
Do you know?
This matchday saw a trio of sides play ‘host’ at nuetral venues. Timor-Leste entertained United Arab Emirates at the Shah Alam Stadium in Malaysia, while Myanmar welcomed Korea Republic to Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium. Yemen, meanwhile, played their second home game at the Qatar SC Stadium in Doha.
*What they said *
Gary White, Guam coach: "It was a tough and competitive game, and it feels nice to be at the top of the group. We used American-based players to the fullest extent. This is not the same Guam who used to play some 15-16 years back.”
*Matchday 2 results
*Group A: Timor-Leste 0-1 United Arab Emirates, Malaysia 0-6 Palestine
Group B: Bangladesh 1-1 Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan 1-2 Australia
Group C: Bhutan 0-6 China PR, Hong Kong 2-0 Maldives
Group D: Guam 2-1 India, Turkmenistan 1-1 Iran
Group E: Japan 0-0 Singapore, Cambodia 0-1 Afghanistan
Group F: Chinese Taipei 0-2 Thailand
Group G: Myanmar 0-2 Korea Republic, Laos 0-2 Lebanon
Group H: Korea DPR 4-2 Uzbekistan, Yemen 0-2 Philippines