Malaysia’s World Cup qualifier with Saudi Arabia was abandoned three minutes from time due to crowd trouble on Tuesday, while Syria maintained their hopes of progression with another win.
The Group A meeting in Malaysia was finely poised at 2-1 to the visitors going into the final three minutes before play was stopped, with reports of flares being thrown and fighting between fans.
It brought a premature end to Ong Kim Swee’s first match at the helm and it remains to be seen what punishment will be meted out by FIFA.
An altogether more positive story unfolded in Group E, where Syria triumphed 6-0 over Cambodia to stay top of the table.
Syria face second-place Japan in October and Fajr Ibrahim’s men warmed up in style, as Omar Khribin scored twice in their comfortable win at the Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium.
Japan maintained the pressure on the leaders with a 6-0 thrashing of their own, with Afghanistan on the receiving end in Tehran.
Goals from Masato Morishige and Keisuke Honda, as well as two apiece from Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki got the job done.
Australia had to be patient in their Group B victory over Tajikistan, Mark Milligan eventually breaking the deadlock 12 minutes into the second half with an instinctive effort following a corner.
Veteran Tim Cahill added a brace inside the final 18 minutes, after Jordan had briefly assumed top spot with a 4-0 win over Bangladesh.
Yu Dabao’s brace helped China beat the Maldives 3-0 and keep the pressure on Group C leaders Qatar, who held off a late fightback from Hong Kong to win 3-2.
Thailand were comeback kings against Iraq, with Theerathon Bunmathan and Mongkol Tossakrai scoring inside the last 10 minutes to salvage a 2-2 draw at the top of Group F.
A 5-1 win over the Philippines took Uzbekistan second in Group H behind North Korea, while Bahrain beat Yemen 4-0.
In Group F, Chinese Taipei lost 2-1 to Vietnam and Iran eased past India 3-0. Group G’s action saw Lebanon beaten 3-0 by leaders South Korea as Kuwait overcame Laos 2-0.
The Group D clash between Oman and Guam ended goalless, as did the Group A meeting involving Palestine and United Arab Emirates.
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