BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – Australia and Japan both needed late winners to avoid being held at home on Friday's opening day of third-round World Cup qualifying in Asia, while new Arsenal signing Park Chu-young hit a hat trick as South Korea won comfortably.
Australia fell behind to Thailand and it required an 86th minute goal by substitute Alex Brosque to give the Socceroos a 2-1 win.
Japan left it even later, with defender Maya Yoshida heading in the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time to secure a 1-0 win over North Korea.
Park gave Arsenal fans cause for optimism with his sparkling performance in South Korea's 6-0 hammering of Lebanon.
Thailand striker Teerasil Dangda gave the visitors a shock 1-0 lead in the 15th minute against Australia, neatly finishing a perfectly executed 70-meter counter-attack.
Australia dominated possession and created a series of chances before Josh Kennedy finally equalized in the 58th minute.
Brosque, who was a late call-up to the squad to replace the injured Scott McDonald, proved to be the super-sub, tapping in the winner to the relief of coach Holger Osieck and the Brisbane crowd.
The Socceroos manner of victory was made to look comfortable compared to that of Japan, which labored in the absence of injured forward Keisuke Honda and looked like being held to a stalemeate by the trademark resoloute North Korea defense.
However Yoshida headed home a cross just as the referee was preparing to blow the final whistle, and Japan was able to extend its unbeaten run under coach Alberto Zaccheroni to 15 games.
''The North Koreans gave everything they had and we were forced to play patiently,'' Zaccheroni said. ''But at the end of the day, it was rewarding that we made it in the end.''
South Korea had a relative stroll against Lebanon, winning 6-0 in an authoritative performance.
The three points were never in doubt after Park put the hosts ahead with a volley in the eighth minute.
Sunderland forward Ji Dong-won hit a post before the second goal came when Park headed in a Ki Sung-yeung corner seconds before halftime.
Lebanon rarely threatened and was reduced mainly to speculative attempts from long-distance, but was hanging in there until Ji made it 3-0 in the 66th minute; heading a cross into Park's path, then shooting the rebound into an empty net after the keeper blocked the initial shot.
Seconds later, Park completed his hat trick with a low shot from the right side of the area.
Kim Jung-woo got on the scoresheet in the 82nd minute and Ji made it half a dozen in the 85th.
Ten qualifiers were being played across Asia in the first match day of the penultimate group stage.