Japan resurgence continues as Iran pull off miracle to stay top in Asian World Cup qualifiers

After a slow start to their qualifying campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Japan notched a second win in a row on Thursday by beating Vietnam 1-0. EPA/LUONG THAI LINH

There may not have been any movement at the top of both groups on Match Day 5 of the Asian third-round qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but things are starting to heat up following a series of pivotal results.

It initially looked as though South Korea would claim pole position in Group A after their win over United Arab Emirates, but Iran pulled off a miraculous comeback against Lebanon to stay two points clear.

Over in Group B, Saudi Arabia and Australia continue to occupy the top two spots after playing out a 0-0 draw, although Japan -- with a second win on the trot after narrowly edging out Vietnam -- are now firmly within touching distance.

Here, we look at the major talking points as the Asian qualifiers hit its halfway mark of the campaign on Thursday.

Could South Korea's lack of goals prove costly in the long run?

With 11 points from their first five matches, South Korea's campaign is going according to plan but doubts over their firepower still remain following a 1-0 win over UAE, which came courtesy of Hwang Hee-chan's first-half penalty.

They almost always dominate possession and create plenty of chances so it is difficult to be critical of such a side that has yet to lose, but scoring just five goals in as many games is something that can be improved.

On another day, Tottenham ace Son Heung-min could have easily bagged a hat-trick -- and while it does hint at potential improvement -- failure to fix this profligacy could come back to haunt the Taegeuk Warriors.

Miraculous fightback keeps Iran in the driving seat

Trailing 1-0 as the game entered injury-time, Iran looked destined to fall to their first loss of the campaign yet somehow managed to pull off an improbable victory thanks to goals from Sardar Azmoun and Ahmad Nourollahi in the 91st and 95th minutes.

Without the omitted Mehdi Taremi alongside Azmoun up front, Team Melli were far from their best yet and still managed to find a way to get the three points -- a hallmark of all top teams.

Now boasting an eight-point lead over third-placed Lebanon, Thursday's win gives Iran huge confidence boost as they build towards a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance.

Vietnam come up just short... again

It is the recurring theme of Vietnam's maiden appearance in the third round of Asian World Cup qualifiers: A spirited display against more-illustrious opponents with ultimately nothing to show for their efforts.

Park Hang-seo and his charges can take pride for displaying greater intent in their 1-0 loss to Japan than they perhaps did in their previous four outings, where they largely set out their stall to defend.

The key for Vietnam now is to build on this effort and continue to take the game to their opponents, especially given Park has just been handed a contract extension until January 2023.

End of perfect streak will hardly bother Saudi Arabia

Following wins in their first four qualifiers, Saudi Arabia are no longer the competition's last remaining team with a perfect win record after a 0-0 draw against Australia at Western Sydney Stadium.

Not that it would really matter to them given they remain top of Group B with a three-point lead over their closest challengers.

The Green Falcons did well to soak up the pressure from the Socceroos in the early exchanges but then looked the likelier of the two teams to win it as the match wore on. They remain in an excellent position to qualify for Qatar 2022.