South Korea, Iran and Australia all took a significant step towards securing a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil on Tuesday.
The trio emerged victorious from the latest round of Asian qualifiers, as Matchday Nine served up few surprises.
In a battle for Group A supremacy in Seoul, South Korea put themselves in pole position to reach Brazil 2014 with a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan - although they were given a helping hand by Uzbek defender Akmal Shorakhmedov.
The full-back's first-half own goal proved decisive when he jumped to clear Kim Young-Gwon's cross in the 44th minute ahead of Lee Keun-Ho and inadvertently headed the ball into his own net.
On a damp day in the South Korean capital, the home side started well and should have taken the lead midway through the half through Lee, who missed when well placed, but Uzbekistan offered a threat of their own and will feel they could have taken something from the game.
A win would have given the Uzbeks a guaranteed spot at the finals, and they sparked into life after weathering the early pressure, as Ulug Bakaev had two excellent chances well saved.
The game's only goal came just before the break as Shorakhmedov put into his own net.
Uzbekistan felt there was a handball and a foul in the build up but when a right-wing cross came into the penalty area, the full-back mistimed his header, which flew past his helpless goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.
It marked the first goal that Uzbekistan had conceded since last October, and could prove a costly one to their hopes of making further progress.
Victory means that South Korea now only need a draw from their final game against Iran, who are also in good shape after a 4-0 thumping of Lebanon.
The outcome was never in doubt for the hosts at a packed Azadi Stadium from the point that Mohammad Khalatbari broke the deadlock six minutes before the break.
Captain Javad Nekonam then took centre stage - the former Osasuna midfielder making it two just prior to the interval and grabbing his second four minutes from time.
In between, Reza Ghoochannejhad fired home to get his name on the scoresheet as Iran cruised to second place in the group.
In Group B, Australia registered their first home triumph of the campaign courtesy of a comfortable 4-0 win over Jordan.
A first-half goal from Mark Bresciano at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium was topped off by second-half efforts from Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse and captain Lucas Neill, who scored his first international goal in his 91st match.
The win moves Australia into second place in the Group B standings with one match remaining, against Iraq in Sydney next Tuesday. A win in that game will guarantee them qualification.
The manner of the victory - secured thanks to goals from Bresciano in the 15th minute, Cahill in the 61st, Kruse in 76th and Neill in 85th - will give Australia coach Holger Osieck plenty of confidence going into what he hopes will be the final match of their qualifying campaign.
The loss ends Jordan's hopes of progressing automatically and the best they can now hope for is to earn a play-off spot with a win over Oman in Amman next week.
Japan have already qualified, and they continued their impressive form with a 1-0 win against Iraq that ends their hopes of making further progress.
Even with captain Makoto Hasebe suspended and inspirational Keisuke Honda - whose injury-time penalty against Australia last week ensured that Japan became the first team, other than the hosts, to secure their place in Brazil - rested, the Japanese still dominated, although they had to wait until the final minute to net the winner when Shinji Okazaki rolled the ball into an empty net.
Japan will now head to the FIFA Confederations Cup looking to build on what has been an excellent qualifying campaign.
|Coach: Kang-Hee Choi|
for Keun-Ho Lee 64'
for Tae-Hwi Kwak 81'
for Chung-Yong Lee 90+3'
|Maldini: Italian football needs to start over|
|Chile 1 Jamaica 2: Copa champions suffer shock loss|
|Argentina 1 Honduras 0: Higuain scores stunner as Messi hobbles off|
|Uruguay 3 Trinidad and Tobago 1: Cavani double inspires hosts|
|Argentina 1-0 Honduras: Higuain scores stunner as Messi hobbles off|
|Chile 1-2 Jamaica: Copa champion suffers shock loss|
|Deportivo La Coruna sign Emre Colak|
|Uruguay 3-1 Trinidad and Tobago: Cavani double inspires home side|
|Forster optimistic over England´s Euro chances|
|Ramos ´just as hungry as before´ ahead of Atletico showdown|
|Small details will decide Champions League final - Marcelo|
|Henderson backs ´special´ Rashford to push for Euro berth|
|O´Neill pleased with Ireland display despite late equaliser|
|Postecoglou proud despite Socceroos loss|
|Hartley: Another concussion could end my career|
|Hodgson hails Rashford, but leaves door open for Sturridge|
|O´Neill hails ´perfect night´|
|Rashford would have no fear at Euro 2016 - Henderson|
|Ibrahimovic´s next club ´a surprise´ - agent Raiola|
|Republic of Ireland 1 Netherlands 1: Late goal pegs O´Neill´s men back|
|Northern Ireland 3 Belarus 0: Lafferty marks 50th cap with goal|
|Rashford seizes England chance to leave Sturridge in peril|
|England 2 Australia 1: Remarkable Rashford strikes on debut|
|Champions League final: Thankless tasks on eve of showpiece, pesky sprinklers and a few old pros|
|Lewandowski agent confirms Real Madrid talks|
|Germany v Slovakia: Low´s young stars desperate to earn Euro call|
|Nigeria 1 Mali 0: Iheanacho ends wretched run|
|Republic of Ireland 1-1 Netherlands: Boys in Green pegged back after Long goal|
|No fears for Real as Ronaldo looks razor sharp|
|Hazard hints at Chelsea stay|
|Reinartz retires at 27 due to injuries|
|Bellerin not interested in rumours of Barcelona move|
|Zidane happy to fulfil Ancelotti´s prophecy|
|Ronaldo is 100 per cent fit for Champions League final - Zidane|
|Rummenigge: Bayern ready to welcome Hoeness back|
|Bordeaux name Gourvennec as new coach|
|Portugal v Norway: Quaresma challenges hosts to prove Euro 2016 ambition|
|Espanyol announce Galca exit|
|Spain v Bosnia-Herzegovina: Uncapped duo aim to impress|
|Middlesbrough confirm Fischer deal|
|Pearson targeting promotion after Derby appointment|
|England 2-1 Australia: Rashford and Rooney see off Socceroos|
|FIFA hits Croatia with stadium ban as part of widespread homophobia sanctions|
|Northern Ireland 3-0 Belarus: O'Neill's men cruise to victory|
|Italy v Scotland: Chiellini spots chance to prepare for Ireland challenge|
|Sane brushes off talk of Schalke exit|
|Yorke: Giggs should be Mourinho successor|
|Defence can lead Italy to Euro success - Chiellini|
|Scolari swoons over ´spectacular´ Ronaldo|
|Neuer to miss Germany friendly|
|Gabi looking forward, not back|
|Gerhardt agrees Wolfsburg switch|
|Champions League final is the game of my life - Torres|
|Simeone: Casemiro the key for Real|
|Mourinho urges United to ´forget the past three years´|
|Malaga appoint Ramos|
|Berlusconi ready to relinquish power at AC Milan|
|Busquets agrees new five-year Barcelona contract|
|Euro 2016 not under threat from strike action - Braillard|
|Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid: San Siro the stage for Champions League final re-run|
|Vela staying with Sociedad - agent|
|A poke in the eye & ´the f****** master´: Five of the best Mourinho v Guardiola battles|
|Red Devils enter Faustian pact as Manchester United hire Mourinho|
|Star striker top of Mourinho´s United shopping list|
|An attacking mastermind even more fearsome than Ferguson - Jose Mourinho in numbers|
|Manchester United appoint Mourinho as manager|
|Italy not among Euro 2016 favourites - Ancelotti|
|Win or lose in Milan, it is time for Perez to back Zidane|
|Ronaldo wants Morata back at Madrid|
|England v Australia preview: All eyes on Rashford debut|
|Weigl, Kimmich grateful to Tuchel and Guardiola|
|Benitez: I´m ready for Championship challenge|
|Colombia v Haiti: Bacca ready for responsibility|
|Karembeu hails Zidane ahead of Champions League final|
|Panama v Brazil: Lucas Lima ready to prove himself|
|Kaka replaces Douglas Costa in Brazil´s Copa America squad|
|Mascherano opens up on Juventus rumours|
|Allen unclear over Liverpool future|
|Hodgson praises scrapped cup replays|
|Deschamps to take legal action against Cantona|
|Kuyt signs new Feyenoord deal|
|Messi set for court appearance on June 2|
|Juninho tips Atletico for Champions League glory|
|Galatasaray 1 Fenerbahce 0: Podolski header settles Turkish Cup final|
|Skrtel set for Liverpool exit|
|Rashford set for England debut|
|Xavi: It is Atletico Madrid´s time to win the Champions League|
|Manchester United will be hard to beat with Mourinho - Courtois|
|Signing ´animal´ Ibrahimovic a no-brainer for Man Utd, says Henry|
|FA Cup quarter-final replays scrapped|
|Cantona suggests Deschamps dropped Ben Arfa and Benzema over race|
|Depay ´p***** off´ at lack of football|
|Ferdinand welcomes Mourinho to Manchester United|
|Delph placed on England standby list|
|Wales talisman Bale shrugs off Euro pressure|
|Ronaldo open to working under Mourinho again|
|Ronaldo values Champions League over Barcelona´s double|
|Switzerland v Belgium: Shaqiri eyes Euro glory|
|Willian: Manchester United stronger with Mourinho|
|Liverpool and Dortmund in for Guerreiro|
|Real Madrid will attack Atletico again, says Ancelotti|
|Ramirez set for Southampton exit|
|Bale calls for cool Madrid heads|
|´Mourinho can take United back to the top´ - Ibrahimovic hints at Old Trafford switch|
|Hull City v Sheffield Wednesday: Promotion windfall the prize on offer|
|Lahm eyes Champions League glory with Ancelotti|
|Juventus chief hints at Dani Alves deal|
|Gotze warned he will not be first choice under Ancelotti|
|Mexico v Paraguay Preview: Marquez ready to make the most of 'great opportunity'|
|Courtois: If nothing strange happens, I will continue at Chelsea|
|Vermaelen ´disappointed´ by Barca struggles|
|Higuain and Lamela dream of lifting the Copa America|
|Reborn Torres returns to Milan to complete Atletico´s greatest tale|
|Lukaku offers Everton ultimatum: I want to win trophies!|
|United States v Bolivia: Copa America hosts to fine-tune preparations|
|Zidane has united Real Madrid again - Ramos|
|Mexico v Paraguay: Marquez ready to make the most of ´great opportunity´|
|Republic of Ireland v Netherlands Preview: O'Neill wants confident display|
|Coyle leaves Houston Dynamo|
|McLaren could end Mercedes dominance - Alonso|
|Orlando City 2 Philadelphia Union 2: Tribbett rescues point in controversial contest|
|United States 1 Ecuador 0: Last-gasp Nagbe goal lifts hosts in Copa America warm-up|
|Djourou compares Xhaka to Pirlo|
|Gallas ´very proud´ of former boss Ranieri´s title glory|
|Copa America to use goal-line technology|
|Smith likens Postecoglou to Klopp|
|Hart backs Sterling to shine at Euro 2016|
|Giovinco happy in MLS despite Euro 2016 snub|
|Balotelli set for Liverpool return, confirms Berlusconi|
|Atletico must win Champions League - Cerezo|
|Arbeloa: Mourinho didn´t get enough recognition at Madrid|
|Mijatovic: Bale can save Madrid´s season in Champions League final|