IR Iran and UAE's qualifying campaigns in real danger
Syria go five points clear of China PR in Group A
Japan, Syria and Australia stay perfect
Unexpected results and dramatic endings came to the fore on Matchday 5 of Asia’s second qualifying round for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Notably, IR Iran and United Arab Emirates lost again to see their campaign in real danger while Korea Republic, Korea DPR and Thailand’s hopeful campaigns were dealt with a blow after dropping points.
Meanwhile, both Iraq and Saudi Arabia needed last-ditch efforts to win against IR Iran and Uzbekistan respectively but Japan, Syria and Australia maintained their unblemished records with a fourth-straight win to move closer to progression. Join FIFA.com as we take a closer look at the action across Asia.
Group A: Maldives 1-2 Philippines, Syria 2-1 China PR Group B: Kuwait 9-0 Chinese Taipei, Jordan 0-1 Australia Group C: Hong Kong 0-0 Bahrain, Iraq 2-1 IR Iran Group D: Yemen 1-0 Palestine, Uzbekistan 2-3 Saudi Arabia Group E: Afghanistan 1-1 India, Oman 4-1 Bangladesh Group F: Myanmar 4-3 Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic 0-2 Japan Group G: Malaysia 2-1 Thailand, Vietnam 1-0 United Arab Emirates Group H: Turkmenistan 3-1 Korea DPR, Lebanon 0-0 Korea Republic
Uzbekistan 2-3 Saudi Arabia Goals: Eldor Shomurodov 16', Otabek Shukurov (pen) 56'; Salman Al Faraj (pen) 23', 85', Salem Al Dawsari 90'
In Group D, captain Salman Al Faraj struck a brace as Saudi Arabia defeated hosts Uzbekistan 3-2 in dramatic fashion and leapfrogged their opponents to the top of the section. Indeed, Herve Renard's visitors had to twice come from behind to draw themselves on level terms before sealing the three points through a dramatic last-minute effort.
In what was the two sides' fifth World Cup qualifying meeting, Odil Ahmedov's home side started brightly with Eldor Shomurodov opening the scoring with his fourth goal of this campaign. Their lead, however, proved short-lived as Al Faraj drew level minutes later through a spot-kick. Otabek Shukurov would restore the hosts' lead with a penalty after the restart, but Al Faraj struck the leveller five minutes from time before Salem Al Dawsari sealed the victory.
In the other match, Omar Al Dahi scored the only goal as Yemen downed Palestine by a solitary goal to move into third place, trailing Uzbekistan by just a point.
Group A leaders Syria opened up a five-point cushion at the top of the section after defeating Marcello Lippi's China PR 2-1 in Dubai. Osama Omari put the Syrians ahead but Wu Lei drew the Chinese level as the two sides finished the first half locked at 1-1. The balance was, however, tipped in Syria's favour with defender Zhang Linpeng's second-half own-goal gifting them a fortunate three points.
Following the match, Lippi announced his resignation as China manager: "We won against minnows like Maldives and Guam but we drew against Philippines. And today Syria played better than us. I take the responsibility. I declare that I resign from the head coach's post."
In the group's other match, the Philippines overcame hosts Maldives by the identical scoreline to move level with China on points.
In Group B, Adam Taggart's first-half goal proved the difference as Australia sank hosts Jordan 1-0. The victory saw Graham Arnold's Socceroos cement their place at the top, now five points clear of the Jordanians. In the other match, Kuwait produced the matchday's biggest win by thumping Chinese Taipei 9-0 at home to move level with Jordan on points and ahead of them on goal difference.
In Group C, Asia's top-ranked side IR Iran lost again, this time falling 2-1 to rivals Iraq in Amman. Mohanad Ali gave the Iraqis an early lead but the Iranians drew level midway through the first half through Ahmed Nourollahi. Srecko Katanec’s side had to leave it late when Alaa Abbas sealed the hard-fought win with an injury-time strike. The result, coupled with Bahrain's goalless draw in Hong Kong, saw Iraq create a two-point gap on the Bahrainis while IR Iran, drifted four points from the summit with the their campaign in real jeopardy.
In Group E, a 4-1 win over Bangladesh saw hosts Oman move within a point of leaders Qatar who were not in action. In the other match, Seimeinlen Doungel cancelled out Zelfy Nazary's first-half goal with a last-minute strike as India shared the spoils with Afghanistan in a 1-1 stalemate, a result which saw the two sides' hopes further fade away.
In Group F, a 2-0 win in Kyrgyz Republic saw Japan extend their lead at the top to six points and move to within touching distance of sealing the section's sole automatic qualifying spot. Takumi Minamino and Genki Haraguchi struck in each half as Hajime Moriyasu's Samurai Blue maintained their perfect record this campaign. Bottom side Myanmar, meanwhile, registered their first points by edging Tajikistan 4-3 at home.
In Group G, Vietnam moved into the section's summit following a shock 1-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates at home. Nguyen Tien Linh scored the only goal as the hosts maintained their undefeated record in this campaign. In the other match, Brendan Gan cancelled out Chanathip Songkrasin's early goal before Mohamadou Sumareh struck the match-winner as Malaysia edged Thailand 2-1 to register a crucial win.
In Group H, both Korea Republic and Korea DPR disappointed by dropping points. The former were held to a goalless draw by hosts Lebanon, while the latter floundered 3-1 in Turkmenistan. Despite the draw, Paulo Bento's visitors remain at the top of the section one point clear of Lebanon and Korea DPR. Turkmenistan, with two victories, are a point further down. With the top four teams separated by just two points, the race for the group's sole qualifying berth remains wide open.
While Australia’s 1-0 win against Jordan was their first away victory in Amman, Myanmar also made a piece of their own history by grabbing their first-ever triumph against Tajikistan.