SINGAPORE (AFP) - China, Iran, Japan, Bahrain and the UAE qualified for the 2011 Asian Cup finals on Wednesday, but Australia must wait after conceding a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 in Kuwait.
Japan pulled off an escape in the Ali Mohsen Al Muraisi Stadium in Sana'a after Sota Hirayama fired a hat-trick to see off Yemen 3-2 after the hosts had established a two-goal lead through Basem Al Aqel and Sami Karama.
Hirayama pulled one back just before the break - before Khaled Baleid hit the bar for Yemen - and the Blue Samurai striker's close range finish 11 minutes from the end secured the win that ensured they stay atop a Group A from which Bahrain also qualify after thumping Hong Kong 4-0.
The game in Sana'a was under threat of being called off following the attempted bombing on Christmas Day of a US-bound airliner.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group's Yemen-based arm, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Australia's hopes are still in the balance after Pim Verbeek's Socceroos failed to see off Kuwait despite Luke Wilkshire and Central Coast Mariners defender Dean Hefferman putting the visitors 2-0 up inside five minutes.
Kuwait roared back and scored twice in a frenetic end to the opening period through Hamad Al Enezi and Yousef Nasser.
Al Enezi drew a fine save from Aussie keeper Eugene Galekovic nine minutes from time to keep the Socceroos level with the Kuwaitis in Group B on eight points but second on goal difference.
Oman's 2-1 win over Indonesia in Jakarta means they are still in the mix on seven points - but the Indonesians are out.
Australia still have to entertain the Indonesians while Kuwait travel to Oman.
Perennial underachievers China secured their berth with a hard-fought goalless draw in Zhejiang against qualified Syria in Group D.
But Gao Hongbo's team had to wait an agonising 40 minutes to hear the result from Beirut, where minnows Lebanon held Vietnam to a 1-1 draw which sent the Chinese through.
It was sweet revenge for China, who lost 3-2 to Syria at the start of the qualifying campaign almost a year ago under caretaker coach Yin Tiesheng, but since then had recorded three straight wins before Wednesday's draw.
Iran, a traditional Asian powerhouse still recovering from its failure to make next year's World Cup in South Africa, ensured they will kick-off in Doha in January 2011 with a convincing 3-1 victory in Singapore.
While the home team started brightly, defensive blunders gifted Iran two goals in the space of 60 seconds.
Hadi Aghli opened the Iranian account with a penalty on 11 minutes and Mehrzad Madanchi made it 2-0 a minute later after picking up a stray Mustafic Fahrudin pass on the edge of the box and firing home.
Nor Alam Shah pulled one back for the home side just after half-an-hour but a delicate chip from Radham Rezaei mid-way through the second period sealed victory for Iran.
Singapore can still reach their first Asian Cup finals since hosting the competition back in 1984 after Bryan Robson's Thailand failed to dispatch Jordan.
Their 0-0 draw in Bangkok draw means Singapore and Thailand both have six points with Jordan on five and a game to play.
Jordan would appear to have the advantage with a home tie against Singapore on March 3 while Thailand must travel to Iran.
Uzbekistan and Syria had already booked their places at the showpiece in Qatar, along with the host nation and Iraq, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, the top three in the 2007 tournament.
India are also through as the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup winners
A last-gasp goal from substitute Ahmed Khalil sent United Arab Emirates through after he scored in stoppage-time to seal a 1-0 Group C win over Malaysia at Al Shabab Stadium.
In Manama, Ismail Abdullateef scored a hat-trick and Abdulla Al Dhakeel netted the other to leave Bahrain coach Milan Macala a happy man as his men progressed with Japan.
"The main thing was to qualify and now that we have achieved it, we are not bothered too much about the final scoreline," said the Czech.
Hong Kong coach Fai Chun Liu said the result was not totally unexpected but added that it was a good learning experience.
"We played well in the opening stages. But once we conceded the first goal we tried too hard to get back into the match," said Liu.
|Basem Al Aqel||13'|
|Aref Al Dali|
|Akram Al Wrafi|
|Ala'a Al Sasi|
|Khaled Hasan Baleid|
|Munassar Ba Haj|
|Ali Al Nono|
|Coach: S. Juričić|
for Basem Al Aqel 71'
for Sami Karama 77'
for Akram Al Wrafi 83'
|Lyon success a source of pride for Gonalons|
|Juventus v Fiorentina: Allegri seeking improvement|
|Edu hails ´phenomenon´ Sanchez|
|´Huge money´ needed to take Cech away - Mourinho|
|Lazio v Napoli: Benitez calls for unity in trophy quest|
|West Ham´s Cole landed with FA charge|
|Leeds fan group want meeting with Hollywood star Crowe|
|Suso prepared to wait for Milan chance|
|Ashley fined £7,500 for influence in Rangers|
|Blanc praises Luiz´s versatility|
|Pochettino: League Cup heartbreak will help Spurs grow|
|Carver understands frustration with Van Gaal|
|AFC Champions League Review: Jeonbuk and Kashiwa win convincingly|
|Guardiola committed to Bayern amid City rumours|
|Hughes: Bruce is defending the indefensible|
|Espanyol v Athletic Bilbao: Stuani eyeing ´momentous´ cup final|
|Everton waiting on Baines fitness|
|I am not under pressure, Pellegrini insists|
|Guardiola demands focus ahead of Braunschweig clash|
|Van Gaal: Di Maria needs a year to settle|
|Luis Enrique vows to attack Villarreal|
|Jedinak hit with four-game ban|
|Mourinho guarantees Terry deal|
|Mowbray lands Coventry job|
|Strootman on schedule for Roma return|
|Mikel out for a month after surgery|
|Palace midfielder Jedinak accepts FA charge|
|Wigan chairman Whelan stands down, hands reins to 23-year-old grandson|
|Jedinak stays quiet on FA charge|
|England winger Johnson released on bail|
|Gareca signs four-year Peru deal|
|Sandro set for QPR return|
|Hull dealt Brady blow|
|Garcia going nowhere, insists Pallotta|
|Allardyce: Chelsea aren´t allowed to be off form|
|Arsenal boosted by Ramsey return|
|No early Barca return for Tello|
|Pirlo inspired stunning Tevez free-kick|
|Brunt vows to heap misery on Villa|
|Barry: Everton needs points on the board to avoid relegation scrap|
|Janmaat hails ´fantastic´ Van Gaal|
|Cahill vows to silence critics|
|Spurs legend Mackay passes away|
|Adrian: I get good results against Mourinho|
|Hoffenheim boss wary of rising expectations|
|Sturridge edging closer to his best - Rodgers|
|Kroos happy with deeper role|
|Terry ´fighting´ for Chelsea contract|
|Townsend: No excuses for Tottenham|
|Garcia applauds Roma´s ´magnificent´ comeback|
|Belenenses 0 Pacos de Ferreira 1: Moreira seals rare away win|
|Juve angry at Roma draw - Allegri|
|Roma 1 Juventus 1: Keita keeps slim Scudetto hopes alive|
|Celta Vigo 1 Elche 1: Controversial late penalty gives visitors a point|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Gala extend lead at the top|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Monaco: Jardim rejects de-facto final talk|
|Stuttgart, Freiburg named in doping claims|
|Dyche hails Ings determination ahead of Liverpool showdown|
|Newcastle United v Manchester United: Mata out to make more memories|
|England winger Johnson suspended after arrest on underage sex charge|
|Liverpool back in the black|
|Jedinak charged with violent conduct|
|BREAKING NEWS: Police make arrest on underage sex charge amid reports England international is held|
|Schone delighted to extend Ajax deal|
|Montolivo and De Jong suffer injuries|
|Bayern Munich v Eintracht Braunschweig: ´Self-critical´ holders in no mood to ease off, says Muller|
|Tottenham v Swansea City: Pochettino out to banish League Cup disappointment|
|QPR v Arsenal: Austin ready for survival fight|
|Sherwood: No hard feelings over missing out on West Brom job|
|Chelsea and Everton fined for fracas|
|Villarreal v Barcelona: Final in sight for visitors|
|Stoke City v Everton: Howard calls for back-to-basics approach|
|Pearson: I understand Pellegrini pressures|
|West Brom sweating on fitness of Berahino and Ideye|
|Manchester City v Leicester City: Pellegrini demands response|
|Feyenoord and Roma face UEFA charges|
|Liverpool v Burnley: Rodgers full of respect for visitors|
|Brown has red card overturned|
|Rodgers heaps praise on Allen|
|Koeman critical of Jedinak elbow|
|Bruce hits back at Hughes over Figueroa challenge|
|Koeman sets 61-point target for Southampton|
|Ibe set to miss a month with knee injury|
|Klopp looking to maintain momentum|
|Bent out for three to four weeks with hamstring injury|
|Schmidt ready for Kaiserslautern clash|
|West Ham v Chelsea: Mourinho turning attention back to the league|
|Barca must not be distracted by Clasico, says Busquets|
|Terry rules out England return|
|De Boer demands more despite PSV win|
|Bony: We have to win every game|
|Subotic rejects Serbia call-up|
|Benitez frustrated at refereeing decisions|
|Real Madrid must learn from Villarreal draw - Marcelo|
|QPR announce losses of £9.8m|
|Rutten to leave Feyenoord|
|First trophy for ´new´ Chelsea - Mourinho|
|Icardi the future of Inter, says Ausilio|
|Patience needed from ´brilliant´ United fans - Rooney|
|Allen hails ´next level´ Coutinho|
|Points over milestones for Cisse|
|Hecking ´furious´ with Wolfsburg defence|
|CONCACAF Champions League Preview: DC United face uphill task to reach semis|
|AFC Champions League Preview: Al Ain enhanced, Wanderers prepare for Evergrande reunion|
|Coupe de France Preview: PSG, Monaco to meet again|
|Crouch happy to silence doubters|
|Blanc questions rivals´ mental strength as PSG gain ground|
|Kane: Fortune favoured Chelsea|
|Ancelotti defends Isco substitution|
|Rooney: Di Maria will come good|
|Stubborn Villarreal impress Real´s Pepe|
|PSG could not ´kill off´ Monaco - Van der Wiel|
|Serie A Review: Napoli suffer defeat at Torino, Lazio lurking|
|Ligue 1 Review: Title chasers´ slip-ups go unpunished|
|La Liga Review: Real and Atletico suffer frustrating draws|
|Primeira Liga Review: Porto´s Tello dents Sporting´s title hopes|
|Monaco 0 PSG 0: Champions miss chance to go top|
|Real Madrid 1 Villarreal 1: Moreno leveller ensures stalemate|
|Simeone satisfied with Sevilla point|
|Henry: Chelsea can win a trophy treble this season|
|Mancini frustrated by ´hesitant´ Inter|
|Sevilla 0 Atletico Madrid 0: Simeone´s men in fiery draw|
|Pochettino upbeat despite League Cup defeat|
|Inter 0 Fiorentina 1: Montella´s men end San Siro wait|
|Bundesliga Review: Wolfsburg edge eight-goal thriller, Monchengladbach win|
|Mourinho revels in ´beautiful´ League Cup success|
|Eredivisie Review: PSV lose home record as Ajax close the gap|
|Terry thrilled by ´massive´ League Cup final win|
|Chelsea 2 Tottenham 0: Mourinho´s men seal League Cup success|
|Coquelin sustains broken nose|
|Wenger hails Giroud character after Everton goal|
|Everton not getting what they deserve - Martinez|
|Coutinho is coming of age at Anfield - Rodgers|
|Football League Preview: Wolves in the hunt for back-to-back promotions|
|Norwich City 2 Ipswich Town 0: Neil´s men go third with derby triumph|
|Southampton v Crystal Palace: Fonte focusing on big picture|
|Arsenal 2 Everton 0: Giroud strikes to silence doubters|
|Dynamo Dresden v Borussia Dortmund: Hummels eager to build on derby win|
|Rodgers tips hat to relentless Liverpool|
|City facing uphill challenge to retain title - Pellegrini|
|Celtic 4 Aberdeen 0: Champions dominate top-of-the-table clash|
|Lallana hails ´massive´ win as Liverpool´s top-four charge continues|
|Hull City v Sunderland: Cattermole allowing no excuses against ´bogey team´|
|Liverpool 2 Manchester City 1: Coutinho dents City´s title hopes|
|Sunderland to appeal Brown red card|
|Aston Villa v West Brom: Sherwood looking for confidence boost|
|Allegri not taking risks on Vidal and Pogba|
|Pardew defends Jedinak over Sakho elbow|
|Heldt apologises after Schalke´s derby humbling|
|Milan must give that bit extra - Bocchetti|
|Rooney: Brown red must be rescinded|
|Monk hails Swansea´s versatility|
|Melbourne Victory 2 Wellington Phoenix 3: Hosts miss chance to go top|
|Rodgers: Top-four finish would be bigger than last season´s effort|
|Batman and Robin ´a bit of fun´ - Reus|
|Rakitic feeling better after ending goal drought|
|Copa Libertadores Preview: Well-rested Cruzeiro ready for Universitario|
|Fournier fuming after Lyon loss|
|DFB Pokal Preview: Gladbach visit rusty Offenbach|
|Mourinho: Tottenham approached me|
|Primeira Liga Review: Birthday boys Benfica hit Estoril for six|