China advanced to the third and final round of Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup despite a 1-0 defeat to South Korea on Tuesday, while Indonesia also made progress.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Lee Kang-in scored just after the hour mark in Seoul for South Korea, which was already in the next qualifying stage as group winners.

The damaging loss left China’s World Cup hopes hanging by a thread, but Thailand failed to capitalize as their dreams of progress fell painfully short.

They had to beat cellar city Singapore by three goals in Bangkok to move China into second place in Group C of the second qualifying stage, but the Thais could only win 3-1.

In contrast to the crushing disappointment in Bangkok, Indonesia celebrated reaching the third qualifying round for the first time with a 2-0 home win over the Philippines.

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Indonesia joined Iraq in exiting Group F, with Thom Haye and Rizky Ridho the scorers on the night in Jakarta.

Elsewhere, coach Hajime Moriyasu warned Japan the final qualifying round will be “a whole different level” after beating Syria 5-0 to advance with a 100 percent record.

Moriyasu’s side completed the second qualifying stage with maximum points with 24 goals scored and no goals conceded after an easy win in Hiroshima.

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Japan wants to qualify for the eighth World Cup in a row, when the tournament takes place in the US, Canada and Mexico.

“We faced a team that had to win and the players got the result by working hard in preparation and doing the things they had to do,” the coach said.

“But the upcoming final round will be at a completely different level than the second round.”

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Syria had to sweat in one place in the next phase.

North Korea needs just a point in Group B bottom Myanmar later Tuesday to leapfrog Syria and progress.

In a dead heat in Group I, Australia defeated Palestine 5-0 in Perth with Portsmouth’s Kusini Yengi scoring twice, one from the spot. Both parties were already in the next phase.

Like Japan, Australia had maximum points in the second phase and did not concede a goal in six games.