Doha: Australia scored twice late on to beat Iraq 2-1 and revive their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign on Tuesday, while Uzbekistan and Oman also earned much-needed victories. Uzbekistan downed 2022 World Cup host Qatar 1-0 and Oman beat Jordan 2-1.
In Doha, Iraq scored against the run of the play from a counterattack when Younis Mahmoud crossed for substitute Ala'a Abdulzehra to slot the ball past goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the 72nd minute. Australia levelled when Tim Cahill rose above the defence eight minutes later to head the ball into the net from a corner.
With a draw looking likely, Australia substitute Tom Oar crossed the ball into the box for unmarked substitute Archie Thompson to head home the 84th-minute winner.
Uzbekistan earned their first win of the campaign when midfielder Sanjar Tursunov scored in the 13th minute after being fed a cross by Ulugbek Bakaev from the right flank. Qatar pressed for the equaliser, with Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov parrying Muhammed Mubarak's long-range shot. Qatar captain Wesam Rizik had a good chance in the 23rd but his shot went over the bar. Qatar's best second-half chance came when striker Sebastian Soria's header just missed the mark.
Uzbekistan moved into second place in Group A behind South Korea with the victory. "It's good to win. But we only have five points now," said Uzbekistan coach Kasimov Mirdjalal, who replaced Vadim Abramov after the loss to Iran in their first qualifying match.
"We'll play all our remaining games just like it is our last game. We did have more chances. But the early kickoff was too hard on us. We can't bring 100 per cent in such conditions. It was quite tough on our players."
Qatar's Brazilian coach, Paulo Autuori, said he would encourage his players to concentrate on their match next month against Lebanon. "Honestly speaking, Uzbekistan has a good team full of experienced players," Autuori said. "Football is like this. You win some, you lose some. They tried their best. From this moment, we should try to forget about this game and concentrate on the next. I'll try to cheer the players hard so that they get ready for the next match."
Players received a taste of what it will be like to play in hot and humid conditions should there be a summer world cup in 2022. Even with temperatures at a relatively comfortable low 30s Celsius, the referee stopped the match in the first half so players could have a water break.
In Muscat, goals from Ahmed Mubarak Obaid and Juma Darwish helped Oman earn their first victory and move off the bottom of Group B table. After a scoreless first half in which Oman dominated, Saad Suhail sent a cross in that landed near Obaid, who broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute. Darwish doubled the lead in the 82nd after he received a cross from the right and tapped the ball into the net. Jordan's Thaer al-Bawab pulled a goal back in the 90th.
The win was unexpected as the home side has struggled in qualifying; until the Jordan match, it was bottom of Group B. Jordan, by contrast, were a surprise second and coming off an upset win over Australia. Oman are now joint second with Australia, five points behind leader Japan. Jordan have four points.
"It was a tough match and I am happy," Oman coach Paul Le Guen said. "The win means a lot as it keeps us in the race for a berth in Brazil."