Australia left it late to maintain their perfect start to World Cup qualifying Group One as Mark Bresciano's goal earned them a barely deserved win over Bahrain in Manama today.
Bresciano capitalised on a mistake from Bahrain captain Mohamed Husain in stoppage time to make the hosts pay for missing a host of earlier chances.
Australia now top the group with maximum points from three games, while Bahrain have just one.
Bahrain started brightly and Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had to be alert early on, first to push away Abdulla Baba Fatadi's cross-shot and then to block Jaycee John's effort after he had skinned full-back David Carney.
Mahmood Abdulrahman also came close before Australia carved out their first real opening, Josh Kennedy miscuing his header from Luke Wilkshire's cross.
Harry Kewell then threatened with a header as Australia started to claw their way back into the game, but Bahrain continued to look the more likely side to break the deadlock after the break.
Faouzi Mubarak Aaish picked out John with a corner, but he could only send his header wide.
And John produced an even more embarrassing miss in the 68th minute when he somehow failed to connect with Salman Isa's low cross when a goal seemed certain.
Shortly before that Carney had fired into the side netting from a narrow angle when a cross had looked the better option.
With less than two minutes remaining substitute Abdulla Al Dakeel almost gave Bahrain the points with a effort which went flew wide.
Instead, with the three minutes of added time almost up, Husain, under pressure from Kennedy, failed to cut out a hopeful long pass into the area.
Bresciano ran on to the ball, steadied himself and held off a last-gasp attempted tackle before shooting home.
Australia coach Pim Verbeek slammed his side's display in today's World Cup qualifier against Bahrain despite the Socceroos maintaining their 100% record in Group One with a fortunate 1-0 away win.
"We didn't play well although we tried our best to improve our game in the second half," he said.
"The players didn't give what was expected of them and that gave Bahrain the opportunity to control the game.
"Bahrain created a lot of chances and they nearly scored from those chances. They played well and have played well so far in the qualifiers but have been unlucky.
"We must improve our performance in our next matches especially as we will play against Japan in our next match.
"I talked to the players and they know that they didn't perform well and we will try our best to improve."
Bahrain coach Milan Macala believes that his side can still secure a trip to South Africa despite the defeat leaving his side at the bottom of Group One with just one point from three games.
"The game was important for us and we put on a great performance as we wanted to get the three points," the Czech coach said.
"We had seven clear chances in front of the Australian goal but we couldn't score.
"Our players showed fighting spirit and Australia scored from the only mistake that we made in the game. We always make such mistakes against big teams and consequently lose these matches."
But with five games left in the qualifiers and a trip to fellow strugglers Uzbekistan next on the agenda in February, Macala is not ready to throw in the towel.
"Our target from the beginning of the qualifiers was to finish third in the group. The defeat doesn't mean the end of our campaign as we will fight until the last match in the qualifiers," he added.
"Our mission has become harder but it is not impossible. If we continue with the same sort of performance in our next matches then I'm sure that we can get the necessary points."