Australia, Jordan cruise in World Cup qualifiers as Thailand, Japan advance
Australia hammered Tajikistan 7-0 in AFC World Cup qualifying in Ange Postecoglou's biggest win as head coach on Thursday.
The Socceroos went ahead through Massimo Luongo in the second minute, then Mile Jedinak slotted home a penalty in the 13th and went into the break at 2-0.
However, the floodgates opened in the second half as another penalty from Mark Milligan made it 3-0 in the 57th minute and Nathan Burns and Tomas Rogic both netted braces in the latter stages to put a gloss on the scoreline.
Australia maintained their two-point lead in Group B over Jordan, who cruised to an 8-0 win over Bangladesh under the leadership of interim coach Harry Redknapp on his international debut.
Hamza Al Dardour recorded a hat trick before half-time while Abdallah Deeb, Yousef Al Rawashdeh, Baha Faisal, Yousef Al Naber and Ahmed Samir also scored for the hosts.
The results set up a match between Australia and Jordan on Tuesday that will decide the group. The loser will still have an opportunity to advance to the next round of qualifying as one of the top four group-stage runners-up.
Thailand drew 2-2 with Iraq to book their place in the next round from Group F.
Mongkol Thosakrai's opener for Thailand was cancelled out by Iraq's Mahdi Kamel, but Adisak Kraisorn again put the visitors ahead in the 86th minute, and that was enough for them to win the group despite a stoppage-time equaliser on a Koravit Namwiset own goal.
To advance, Iraq will likely need a win on Tuesday against Vietnam, who kept alive their own slim hopes with a 4-1 win at Taiwan.
Despite conceding early, Vietnam answered immiediately through Le Cong Vinh, and Nguyen Van Toan added a brace before Vinh added a second late on.
Japan also advanced and maintained their slim lead in Group E thanks to a 5-0 win over Afghanistan, with goals from Shinji Okazaki, Hiroshi Kiyotake, Maya Yoshida and Mu Kanazaki, as well as an Afghani own goal.
Syria kept pace with a 6-0 win over Cambodia -- Omar Khribin and Abdelrazaq Al Hussain each scored twice -- to stay one point back ahead of their final game in Japan next week.
Even if Japan lose that match they will be assured of a spot in the third round as one of the top four group runners-up. Syria are also in good position to move on regardless of Tuesday's result.
Lee Jeong-Hyeop scored in the 92nd minute to keep already-qualified South Korea perfect in Group G with a 1-0 win over Lebanon.
In Group C, China defeated Maldives 4-0 with a Ning Jiang hat trick, while Xu Yang also scored.
The win moved them into second place above group winners Qatar, who ended Hong Kong's hopes of advancing with a 2-0 win, Hassan Al Haidos and Sebastian Soria on the scoresheet.
China must win at home against Qatar on Tuesday or they will be eliminated.
Iran moved to the verge of winning Group D after a 4-0 win over India.
Ehsan Haji Safi scored on a pair of penalties, while Serdar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh also found the net as Iran moved three points clean of Oman, who won 1-0 at Guam thanks to Ahmed Al Mahajri's goal.
Iran will win the group unless they lose by eight goals at home against Oman next week.
Saudi Arabia kept their lead in Group A with a 2-0 win over Malaysia as Mohammed Al Sahlawi and Taisir Al-Jassim both scored in the second half.
Al Sahlawi's goal was his 14th in seven games in the group, the most of any player in the competition.
Earlier, an Ismail Al Hammadi goal and Ahmed Khalil penalty helped the United Arab Emirates win 2-0 against Palestine.
U.A.E. can win the group if they defeat Saudi Arabia by at least two goals on Tuesday.
Uzbekistan took the lead in Group H with a 1-0 win against 10-man Philippines with Anzur Ismailov's goal on the hour mark.
They hold a two-point advantage over idle North Korea, who must win at the Philippines next week and hope the Uzbeks drop points to Bahrain, who defeated bottom-side Yemen 3-0 on Thursday.