Japan suffered a surprise 2-1 loss in Jordan in AFC World Cup qualifying on Tuesday, while Australia came from behind to draw 2-2 with Oman.
The Japanese entered their clash in Amman with four wins and one draw from their five Group B matches, giving them a healthy seven-point lead at the top of the group.
But Jordan climbed from the bottom of the group and into second – above the Socceroos, Oman and Iraq – with a terrific home win.
Japan only needed a point to become the first side – along with hosts Brazil – to qualify for the 2014 showpiece but wasted a plethora of early chances.
Ryoichi Maeda headed onto the crossbar while Hiroshi Kiyotake, Makoto Hasebe and Shinji Kagawa all went close as well.
Jordan claimed the lead against the run of play though, with Khalil Bani Ateyah heading home from a corner in first-half stoppage time.
Shinji Okazaki nearly levelled for Japan after the break but Alberto Zaccheroni’s side were stunned when Ahmad Ibrahim put Jordan 2-0 ahead.
Ibrahim gathered the ball just inside the Japan half and charged down the right, cutting in and shrugging off the attention of defender Maya Yoshida before producing a smart finish on 61 minutes.
It sent the home fans in Amman wild but the scenes of elation were short-lived as Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa pulled a goal back with 21 minutes remaining.
Japan had a golden opportunity to get back on level terms, only for Yasuhito Endo’s penalty to be superbly saved by Jordan goalkeeper Amer Sabbah.
And although the Japanese surged forward in the dying stages looking for an equaliser, they could not find a goal as Jordan celebrated a huge home win.
Brett Holman’s late leveller gave Australia a point in an exciting clash in Sydney.
Oman took the lead after just six minutes thanks to a smart finish from Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali from a tight angle.
Holger Osieck’s side looked devoid of creativity and when Mile Jedinak scored an own goal on 49 minutes, they were in serious danger of losing the match.
But Tim Cahill’s header just three minutes later gave them a lifeline before Holman lashed a 25-yard strike past Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi on 85 minutes.
Australia sit third in Group B with six points from five matches, while Oman are below them with the same tally from six fixtures.
In Group A, Uzbekistan remained on top thanks to a 1-0 home win over the bottom-placed Lebanon.
Server Djeparov scored the only goal for the winners on 63 minutes.
South Korea are just a point behind them after a 2-1 win over Qatar in Seoul, although they left it late to get all three points.
After Lee Keun-Ho’s strike was cancelled out by Khalfan Ibrahim, substitute Son Heung-Min bagged a 97th-minute winner for his side.
Qatar sit fourth in Group A with seven points in six matches.