Asia's second round in Qatar 2022 qualifying came to a close on Tuesday
12 AFC teams will compete in Round 3 for four automatic spots at Qatar 2022
IR Iran edged Iraq to win Group C, UAE held off Vietnam to top Group G
The FIFA World Cup™ dream is still alive for 12 teams across Asia.
The decisive day of Round 2 in the region's FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying drew to a conclusion on 15 June. Australia, Japan, Korea Republic and Syria had already won their groups, but eight more nations joined them after an enthralling day of action.
There were plenty of intriguing storylines to follow, but the headline results saw IR Iran edge Iraq to win Group C, United Arab Emirates hold off a resilient Vietnam side to leapfrog their opponents and win Group G, and Saudi Arabia cruise past nearest challengers Uzbekistan to win Group D.
FIFA.com rounds up all the action.
Tajikistan 4-0 Myanmar Japan 5-1 Kyrgyz Republic India 1-1 Afghanistan Philippines 1-1 Maldives Australia 1-0 Jordan IR Iran 1-0 Iraq Bahrain 4-0 Hong Kong Thailand 0-1 Malaysia United Arab Emirates 3-2 Vietnam Bangladesh 0-3 Oman Saudi Arabia 3-0 Uzbekistan Palestine 3-0 Yemen China PR 3-1 Syria Chinese Taipei 1-2 Kuwait
PRELIMINARY JOINT QUALIFICATION 2022,TAJIKISTAN,MYANMAR,Yanmar Stadium Nagai,15 Jun, 2021,19:28,1 - RUSTAM YATIMOV,10 - WIN NAING TUN,
PRELIMINARY JOINT QUALIFICATION 2022,TAJIKISTAN,MYANMAR,Yanmar Stadium Nagai,15 Jun, 2021,19:28,20 - SAMIEV SHAHROM,11 - MUHAMMADJON RAHIMOV,
China PR capped off an impressive couple of weeks and made it four wins on the trot with a 3-1 victory over Group A winners Syria to book their place in the next round as the best runners-up. The result will be a major boost to Li Tie's side as they beat the team that inflicted their sole defeat of the campaign back in 2019 (2-1). Wu Lei converted a penalty to score his seventh goal in the eight matches during the campaign to end Syria's perfect record during the 2022 qualifiers.
Earlier in the day, the Philippines and Maldives drew 1-1. Angel Guirado opened the scoring for the Azkals for the second consecutive World Cup qualifiers. His first goal for his country in World Cup qualifying came all the way back in July 2011. It was also Maldives' first draw in World Cup qualifying stretching back to 2004.
Australia matched Japan in finishing their Group B Round 2 campaign with a perfect record. The Socceroos edged Jordan 1-0 thanks to Harry Souttar's header from a corner to make it eight wins in a row in a single qualifying campaign for the first time in their history. Kuwait edged Chinese Taipei 2-1 to pip Jordan to second place in the group. However, it wasn't enough to see them progress to the next round.
In what was arguably the most eagerly anticipated encounter of the day, IR Iran defeated Iraq 1-0 thanks to star striker Sardar Azmoun to win Group C. Following back-to-back defeats by Bahrain and Iraq in 2019, Team Melli bounced back and won all four of their World Cup qualifying matches to ensure their place in the third round. Although they lost on the night, Iraq will also be joining their neighbours in the next round as the third-best runner-up. IR Iran bring one of the best defences in the region into the next round; they have kept 17 clean sheets in their last 21 qualifiers. Similarly, Bahrain kept their sixth clean sheet in their last seven qualifiers and a 4-0 victory over Hong Kong saw them finish the group in third.
Herve Renard's Saudi Arabia finished their Group D campaign unbeaten with an impressive display against Uzbekistan in a 3-0 win. Salman Al-Faraj scored a brace to see the Green Falcons score three or more goals in each of their last five qualifiers. Runners-up Uzbekistan, so often regular challengers in Asia, narrowly miss out and are eliminated from the competition. Palestine ended their campaign on a high with an assured 3-0 defeat of Yemen in Riyadh.
Oman booked their place in the next round with a 3-0 victory over Bangladesh to finish as the second-best runner-up. 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar ended up winning Group E with an unbeaten record (seven wins and one draw). Meanwhile, India and Afghanistan shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Tajikistan breezed past Myanmar 4-0 in Group F, however they narrowly missed out on advancing to the next round as one of the five best runners-up due to Lebanon's superior goal difference. Japan capped off a perfect campaign and made it eight wins from eight with a 5-1 demolition of Kyrgyz Republic. Ado Onaiwu scored a hat-trick in the space of an incredible six minutes as Samurai Blue race to a 3-0 lead before the break. Japan scored the most goals in Round 2 with 46, comfortably ahead of nearest challengers IR Iran with 34.
United Arab Emirates will be one of the most in-form sides heading into the next round. Bert van Marwijk's charges held off Vietnam 3-2 to leapfrog them and win Group G. UAE's all-time top goalscorer Ali Mabkhout scored his 11th goal of the campaign, converting a penalty in the triumph. He has now scored a remarkable 27 goals in his last 16 international matches. UAE have now won each of their last six international matches and have scored three goals or more in all six games. Vietnam's road to Qatar 2022 is not over, however, as Park Hangseo's team finished as the fourth-best runner-up. Malaysia finished the group in third place after a 1-0 win over Thailand, extending their unbeaten run against the Thais to five matches.
There were no matches in Group H, however Korea Republic had already sealed passage into the next round as group winners and they will be joined by runners-up Lebanon, who finished as the fifth-best runners-up.
Group winners: Syria, Australia, IR Iran, Saudi Arabia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Korea Republic
Five best runners-up: China PR, Oman, Iraq, Vietnam, Lebanon