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'
|Watford appoint Sannino|
|Sakho feels ´lucky´ to play with Suarez|
|Lippi: Too many teams competing in Club World Cup|
|Moyes ´told Welbeck to learn from Rooney´|
|I would kill myself over match-fixing, says Gattuso|
|Hughes dismisses calls for Januzaj protection|
|Aguero ´could miss up to two months´|
|Guardiola lauds Ballon d´Or nominee Ribery|
|Liverpool open Suarez contract talks|
|Copa del Rey Wrap: Barcelona, Levante cruise through|
|A-League Preview: Derby date beckons for winless Heart|
|Pearson upbeat despite Leicester defeat|
|Poyet urges Sunderland to build on Chelsea win|
|Mourinho rues missed chances|
|Pellegrini proud of professional Manchester City|
|Bayern on another level, says Beckenbauer|
|League Cup: Sunderland 2 Chelsea 1 (aet)|
|League Cup: Leicester City 1 Manchester City 3|
|FIFA Club World Cup: Guangzhou Evergrande 0 Bayern Munich 3|
|Zenit and Olympiacos punished with partial stadium closures|
|Sherwood wants positive reaction|
|Ancelotti expected La Liga title fight|
|Moffat charged over betting allegations|
|Wilson appointed at Barnsley|
|Wilshere charged by FA|
|Gattuso determined to clear his name|
|Moyes slams sacking culture|
|Mackay refuses to resign despite owner criticism|
|Redknapp reluctant to take Taarabt back|
|Amat pleased with development|
|Hughes optimistic of League Cup progression|
|Perez: No bids for Di Maria|
|FIFPro demand transfer system overhaul|
|Edwards sacked by Perth Glory|
|Allardyce not fearing the sack|
|Howson commits to Norwich|
|Tevez resigned to Argentina snub|
|SFA uphold Butcher´s one-match ban|
|Zapata rules out United switch|
|European Ombudsman calls for action on Spanish tax complaint|
|Albrighton eyes new Villa deal|
|Bale to miss Copa del Rey clash with ´small injury´|
|Pardew will bide his time in January|
|Kreuzer confident of Hamburg improvement|
|Van der Sar: Moyes can turn United around|
|Maradona backs Ronaldo for Ballon d´Or|
|Tottenham warned off Klinsmann|
|Costa Rica Primera Division: Alajuelense 0 Herediano 0|
|Lyon wary of Chornomorets Odesa|
|Guardiola talks up Lippi, Evergrande|
|Chile Primera Division Wrap: Chile, Deportes Iquique reach final|
|Garcia laments defensive mistakes|
|La Liga: Real Valladolid 3 Celta Vigo 0|
|Allegri pleased with Milan character|
|Primeira Liga Wrap: Pacos remain bottom, Estoril beat Gil Vicente|
|Suarez: Too early for title talk|
|Serie A: Milan 2 Roma 2|
|Mackay told Cardiff will not spend ´a single penny´ in January|
|Super Lig: Trabzonspor 2 Bursaspor 2|
|League Cup Preview: Tottenham v West Ham|
|Whitecaps appoint Robinson as head coach|
|Mikel, Luiz expecting difficult Galatasaray encounters|
|Sherwood, Ferdinand, Ramsey take temporary charge of Tottenham|
|Kovac ´shocked´ by Simunic sanction|
|FIFA Club World Cup Preview: Raja Casablanca v Atletico Mineiro|
|Betis, Sevilla expecting tough ties|
|League Cup to introduce goalline technology|
|Simunic gets 10-match ban|
|Zola resigns from Watford post|
|League Cup Preview: Stoke City v Manchester United|
|Valencia fire Djukic|
|Nedved anticipating tough Trabzonspor tie|
|Benitez wary of Swansea threat|
|Drogba relishing Chelsea reunion|
|Swansea deserve Napoli tie - Laudrup|
|Atletico relishing Milan tie|
|Winning group was vital, says Manchester United secretary|
|Tymoshchuk talks up Zenit chances|
|Rolfes relishing PSG challenge|
|Poyet unsure on permanent Ki deal|
|Arsenal ´toughest team´ Bayern could have drawn - Boateng|
|Ancelotti warns of Schalke threat|
|Miles: Arsenal paid the price for second place|
|Pellegrini undaunted by Barca draw|
|Keller eager for Real test|
|Gandini content with Atletico draw|
|Aguero to miss ´at least a month´|
|Begiristain optimistic of Manchester City progression|
|Dortmund chief calls for repeat performance against Zenit|
|Deulofeu out for ´up to five weeks´|
|Juve and Fiorentina face potential meeting|
|Juve face Trabzonspor, Napoli handed Swansea tie|
|Juventus drawn against Trabzonspor in Europa League|
|Swansea and Hull handed FA charge|
|Garcia wary ahead of Milan challenge|
|Holders Bayern draw Arsenal in Champions League|
|Allardyce in talks with striker|
|Dortmund handed Zenit test|
|Atletico drawn against Milan|
|United paired with Olympiacos|
|Barcelona to face Manchester City|
|Tottenham part company with Villas-Boas|
|Lille have nothing to lose in Paris, says Girard|
|Hughes happy with Wilson displays|
|Fletcher: I am back for good|
|Suarez a ´dream´ player, says Wenger|
|Ribery eyeing treble repeat|
|Paulinho appeal likely|
|Martinez keen for Barkley to stay grounded|
|´Wonderful´ Flanagan hailed by Rodgers|
|Mazzarri slams referee after Napoli loss|
|Anigo unworried by gap to Lille|
|Simeone: Tough to match Barca´s results|
|Neuer eyes Club World Cup title|
|Conte hails ´incredible´ Juventus|
|Hyypia laments missed chances|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Wrap: Title battle still alive|
|Colombia Primera A: Atletico Nacional 2 Deportivo Cali 0 (2-0 agg)|
|Liga MX: America 1 Leon 3 (1-5 agg)|
|Venezuela Primera Division Wrap: Mineros de Guayana win title|
|Uruguay Primera Division Wrap: Danubio crowned champions|
|Argentina Primera Division Wrap: San Lorenzo clinch title|