China's dream of reaching a second World Cup was receding Wednesday after their latest shattering defeat, as Jordan joined Asia's heavyweights on the march towards Brazil 2014.
Australia appeared set for the fourth qualifying round, while landslide wins for Japan and Iran, who scored 14 unanswered goals between them late on Tuesday, also made them hot favourites to progress.
South Korea beat UAE with the aid of a second-half own goal, but North Korea's bid for back-to-back World Cup appearances -- after a 44-year absence from the tournament -- were hit by defeat to Uzbekistan.
China have recruited ex-Real Madrid and Spain manager Jose Antonio Camacho for their World Cup campaign, but it was a familiar story in Shenzhen as they slumped to a 0-1 loss to Iraq, who played a quarter of the game with 10 men.
Afterwards Camacho, who has overseen two defeats and a narrow win against Singapore in World Cup qualifying since joining China in August, admitted they faced an uphill battle to reach the next round.
"It?s going to be difficult to qualify from here but it?s not impossible. We will try harder in the next game to see what we can do," he said.
Brazilian legend Zico, who is also under pressure to deliver as coach of 2007 Asian champions Iraq, was relieved after what he had described as a must-win game.
"I'm happy that we won this game and we played well under abnormal conditions," he said. "It was a tough game and it was the second time we faced this problem of playing with 10 men.
"China played well and I have to give many thanks to my goalkeeper because he did a great job."
Australia beat Oman 3-0 to make it three wins out of three, a record only matched by Jordan who downed Singapore by the same margin to stay perfect in Group A.
"I think the result is fair. (Singapore) is actually a good team but unfortunately they played against a powerful team like Jordan," said their coach Adnan Hamad.
"I think that the Jordan team has become one of the best teams in Asia."
Asian champions Japan went ballistic in an 8-0 rout of Tajikistan led by a brace from six foot four (194 cm) Dutch-born striker Mike Havenaar, who celebrated his first international goals.
Kengo Kagawa also got two as the Blue Samurai put the Tajiks to the sword with four goals in each half.
"It is not that my life has been full of successes. I've probably had more failures than successes. But I have crawled out of there," said Havenaar, who obtained Japanese citizenship in 1994.
"It makes me proud to play in the country's blue shirt and I want to keep doing this."
Iran crushed Bahrain 6-0 in a match played under tight security following political tensions between the Gulf neighbours over Manama's tough crackdown on Shiite dissidents.
A second-half Qatar winner left Indonesia floundering with zero points in Group E, while ex-Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was also under pressure after his Saudi Arabia team were held 0-0 by Thailand.
"The Saudi team still have a chance because we will play Thailand on our home soil as Oman lost to Australia," said the Dutchman.
The fourth of six rounds of group games will be played on November 11. The top two teams from five pools will reach the fourth stage, where four tickets to Brazil are up for grabs along with an intercontinental play-off spot.