Forced to play away from home due to escalating unrest, Syria stunned Asian heavyweight Japan 2-1 Sunday to boost its chances of qualifying for the London Olympics.
Meanwhile, Australia continued its dismal run in qualifying by losing 2-0 to Uzbekistan in Group B, failing to score for a third consecutive match and dimming its chances of reaching the games.
The only bright spot for Australia was the United Arab Emirates beating Iraq 1-0 in Group B to ensure that three of the four teams are separated by only two points.
In Group C, Bahrain revived its Olympic campaign with a 3-1 win over Malaysia to eliminate the South East Asia team. Bahrain is third, three points behind Japan and Syria.
In Group A, 2022 World Cup host Qatar drew 2-2 with Oman. The draw for Qatar, which was forced to forfeit an earlier match against Oman for fielding an ineligible player, means it likely needs victories in its final two matches to qualify.
South Korea equalized in the 90th minute to draw 1-1 with a 10-man Saudi Arabia. The goal came just minutes after Saudi midfielder Salman al-Faraj was sent off after receiving his second yellow card.
South Korea remains top of the group with the draw, while Saudi Arabia is bottom and on the brink of being eliminated.
In Amman, the Syrian match was overshadowed by the unrest raging back home. Dozens of Syrians opposed to President Bashar Assad cheered on Japan, while supporters of the regime at the King Abdullah II International Stadium chanted "Long live, Bashar."
There were no clashes reported between the two groups.
Syria, looking to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat to Japan in November, pressed from the start. That paid off when Mohammad Fares' free kick deflected into the net off Japan striker Yuya Osako in the 19th minute.
Japan leveled in the 44th minute with an equalizer from Kensuke Nagaim but Syria's Ahmed Saleh scored in the 90th minute.
With two matches remaining, Syria has a good chance of reaching London. That raises the prospect of protesters opposed to the Syrian violence descending on the Olympics to demonstrate against the regime.
Syria would automatically qualify if it wins the group but still has a chance by finishing second. The three runner-ups will face off for the fourth Olympic spot. That team then will take on the four place team from Africa, Senegal, for the final Olympic spot.