Saudi Arabia, Iran take control of AFC World Cup qualifying

A late blitz saw Saudi Arabia overcome United Arab Emirates to claim top spot in Group B, while Iran defeated South Korea to retain pole position in Group A

Saudi Arabia have surged above the Socceroos to the top of Group B in the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) World Cup qualifying after a 3-0 win over United Arab Emirates.

In the third game of the fourth matchday in Group B, Saudi Arabia scored three times in the last 20 minutes to secure victory at King Abdullah Sports City.

The win took Bert van Marwijk's side to 10 points, two ahead of Australia - who drew 1-1 against Japan on Tuesday night - with the Samurai Blue (7) sitting in third.

The top two teams will automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup, with the third-placed side needing to prevail in two two-legged play-offs to earn a ticket to Russia.

Having drawn 2-2 with the Socceroos last week thanks to a late equaliser, Saudi Arabia blew the UAE away with similar second-half surge.

Fahad Al Muwallad put the hosts in front in the 73rd minute before Nawaf Al Abid doubled the Saudis lead six minutes later.

Yehya Al Shehri completed their win in stoppage time.

Elsewhere, Iraq earned their first points of the final group stage of the AFC's qualifying for Russia 2018 as they crushed Thailand 4-0.

Al Zawra'a striker Mohannad Abdulraheem impressively scored all four goals for Iraq, who moved within three points of the fourth-placed UAE (6) in the group standings.

In Group A, Iran took control with a 1-0 home win over South Korea, while Uzbekistan rose to second with a 2-0 victory over China.

Sardar Azmoun scored for Iran as Carlos Queiroz's men remained unbeaten in Group A on 10 points.

Uzbekistan moved up to nine points as they ensured China remain bottom in the table, with 2015 Asian Cup finalists South Korea (7) dropping to third.

In the third game, Qatar defeated Syria 1-0 to move within a point of their fourth-placed opposition.