Qatar scored an 86th-minute goal to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals, with Peter Taylor's Bahrain eliminated despite thrashing Indonesia 10-0.
Bahrain needed at least a nine-goal swing to overhaul Qatar in Group Five, and for the 2022 hosts to lose in Iran. Taylor's side got off to the perfect start when Indonesia goalkeeper Samsidar was sent off and Ismail Abdullahatif converted from the spot after only four minutes.
Abdullahatif (2), Mohammed Al Tayeb (3), Mahmood Abdulrahman (2) and Sayed Ebrahim (3) secured an emphatic win which looked like sending Bahrain through to the final qualifying round. They could even afford missed penalties from Abdullahatif and Al Tayeb.
Early goals from Ashkan Dejagah for Iran and a penalty from Qatar's Khalfan Ibrahim left the other game evenly poised, but the pendulum swung to Bahrain when Dejagah netted a second just after half-time to put Iran in front.
However, Mohammed Kasola, a defender who was born in Ghana, scored in the 86th minute to salvage a 2-2 draw for Qatar and render Bahrain's Herculean effort meaningless.
Oman secured a place in the next stage at the expense of Saudi Arabia thanks to a 2-0 victory over Thailand.
Needing a win to claim second spot in Group Four, and for Saudi Arabia to lose in Australia, Oman took just nine minutes to break the deadlock through Hussain Al Hadri.
Thailand battled hard for an equaliser but the dismissal of Teeratep Winothai five minutes from time effectively ended their challenge, with Abdul Aziz Mubarak making it 2-0 in the dying seconds.
Saudi Arabia twice threw away the lead in a 4-2 loss against group winners Australia, leaving them third in the group.
The Saudis were in front after 19 minutes through Saleem Al Dawsari, and although Alex Brosque levelled matters in the 43rd minute, the visitors restored their lead two minutes later thanks to Nasser Al Shamrani.
But three goals in three second-half minutes from Harry Kewell (73), Brosque (75) and Brett Emerton (76) ended Saudi Arabia's hopes of reaching the next stage of the qualifying competition.
South Korea secured their place in the next round and finished top of Group Two with a 2-0 victory over Kuwait.
Kuwait were the better side and looked capable of securing the shock win which would have guaranteed qualification for the next round. But Lee Dong-Gook fired the opener after 65 minutes with Lee Keun-Ho adding another six minutes later, ending Kuwait's challenge in the competition.
Lebanon had to settle for second spot in the pool after falling to a 4-2 loss against the United Arab Emirates. UAE had previously lost all five group games.
Basheer Saeed's 20th-minute strike for UAE was cancelled out by Mahmoud El Ali three minutes later.
Saeed scored again after 38 minutes but the home side were once more pegged back by an equaliser from Hassan Maatouk at the end of the first half.
However, a 70th-minute effort from Ismaeil Matar restored UAE's lead before Saeed completed his hat-trick 11 minutes from time to end the contest.
In Group Three, winners Uzbekistan preserved their unbeaten record with a 1-0 victory over nearest rivals Japan.
Alexander Shadrin scored the only goal nine minutes after the interval, although both teams had already sealed places in the next round.
The pool's other match between Tajikistan and North Korea ended in a 1-1 draw. A 54th-minute penalty from Jang Song-Hyok gave the visitors the advantage, but Tajikistan were back on level terms eight minutes later through Akhtam Khamroqulov.
Already-qualified Jordan ended their Group One campaign with a 3-1 defeat in China. Hao Junmin scored twice for the Chinese, after 43 and 69 minutes. Abdallah Salim replied for the visitors five minutes from time but Yu Dabao had the final say moments later with China's third.
Jordan's defeat allowed Iraq to claim top spot in the group with a 7-1 thrashing of winless Singapore.
Younis Mahmoud grabbed a hat-trick for the home side with Karrar Jasim, Hawar Mulla Mohammed, Nashat Akram and Mustafa Kareem also on the scoresheet. Singapore's only reply came from the boot of Mohammad Abdul.
The draw for the fourth round takes place on March 9. Teams will be seeded based on FIFA World Rankings. The ten nations will be drawn into two groups of five. Games will be played over 12 months from June with the top two teams qualifying for the finals. The third placed teams will play-off for the right to face a South American side for a place in the finals.