Australia defeated United Arab Emirates 2-0 in Sydney on Tuesday, ending a run of four games without a win to get qualification for the 2018 World Cup back on track.
However, UAE’s second loss in five days prompted coach Mahdi Ali to announce his resignation at the news conference. He’d been in charge since 2012.
Goals in each half from Jackson Irvine and Mathew Leckie sealed a vital win for the Socceroos, who had slipped into third place in Group B behind Saudi Arabia and Japan after four successive draws.
UAE arrived in Sydney in fourth, a point behind Australia.
Lax marking at a seventh-minute corner gave Irvine a free header that took a deflection on its way into the net.
While UAE threatened at times through 2016 Asian player of the year Omar Abdulrahman, it struggled to create enough clear chances to seriously worry the Asian champion.
With 12 minutes remaining Leckie headed home a James Troisi cross to give Australia three points that kept alive hope of a fourth successive World Cup appearance, and in its own hands.
JAPAN 4, THAILAND 0
Japan won a third game in succession at the expense of the bottom team in Group B. Thailand can no longer qualify.
First-half goals at Saitama Stadium from Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki gave Japan a solid foundation.
Yuya Kubo added a third just before the hour, and defender Maya Yoshida headed in a fourth just before fulltime. There was still time for Eiji Kawashima to save a Teerasil Dangda penalty.
SOUTH KOREA 1, SYRIA 0
South Korea stayed second in Group A thanks to a fourth-minute goal from defender Hong Jeong-ho.
After losing in China five days earlier, South Korea returned to winning ways for under-pressure coach Uli Stielike in Seoul.
Syria, fourth in the group, had chances through Alaa Al Shbli in the first half, and Firas Al Khatib hitting the crossbar in injury time.
IRAN 1, CHINA 0
China’s chances of qualifying have virtually ended with this first defeat in competitive action for coach Marcello Lippi since he was appointed in November.
China has just five points from seven of the 10 games.
Iran maintained its four-point lead in Group A thanks to a Mehdi Taremi strike just after halftime, which sent the vast majority of the near 100,000-strong crowd at Azadi Stadium wild.
Under coach Carloz Queiroz, Iran has yet to concede a goal in seven games. The team needs just one win in its final three games to secure a place at a fifth World Cup.