China hammered 12 unanswered goals past hapless Bhutan on Thursday as they ramped up their World Cup qualifying hopes with their biggest win in 15 years.

Australia, Japan and South Korea also enjoyed comfortable wins on a night of few surprises in Asia’s round two—apart from the giant scoreline in Changsha.

After Mei Fang’s 10th-minute opener, Yang Xu hit four including a penalty and Yu Dabao, Yu Hanchao and Wang Yongpo all bagged braces as China ran riot.

The pain didn’t finish until two minutes from time for Bhutan when Zhang Xizhe grabbed the 12th and last goal for Alain Perrin’s rampant home side.

The 12-0 win heaped further embarrassment on Bhutan, the remote Himalayan kingdom known for its Gross National Happiness index, after they also lost 15-0 to Qatar earlier in qualifying.

After five games in their first appearance in round two, the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” lie bottom of Group C with zero points and a goal difference of minus 42.

China’s biggest win since they beat Guam 19-0 in 2000 also throws down the gauntlet ahead of next week’s crunch clash with rivals Hong Kong, who beat Maldives 1-0 away.

Asian champions Australia, shocked 2-0 by Jordan last time around, got back on track with a 3-0 win over Kyrgyzstan which featured a 42nd international goal for record scorer Tim Cahill.

Shanghai Shenhua’s Cahill scored the second goal just after half-time following a 40th-minute penalty by skipper Mile Jedinak. Ildar Amirov’s own goal on 69 minutes rounded off the scoring.

“Our plan was to keep them under pressure, stay on them, don’t sit back, stay on the front foot and we did that really, almost suffocated them,” Jedinak said.

Elsewhere AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda and Maya Yoshida of Southampton both scored as Japan completed a revenge mission and went top of Group E by beating Singapore 3-0 away.

It follows Singapore’s surprise 0-0 draw at Saitama in June, which was a setback to Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic in his first competitive game in charge and left him keen to make amends.

“Their goalkeeper had a big game again today and I congratulated him personally after the game because I don’t know how many chances he saved in these two games,” said the Bosnian.

South Korea enjoyed a 4-0 home win against Myanmar as they took a firm grip on Group G, and in Group D heavyweights Iran beat Turkmenistan 3-1 at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

Meanwhile, India recorded their first win after five straight defeats when they pipped Guam 1-0 in Bangalore. 

A goal by Robin Singh in the 10th minute was enough to give India a revenge win over the tiny Western Pacific islanders who had won their first leg clash in Group D.

India, who are at the bottom of the table despite the win, played with just 10 men after Sehnaj Singh was sent off in the 41st minute for a dangerous tackle.

There were big wins for United Arab Emirates and Palestine in Group A. While UAE thrashed East Timor 8-0 thanks to four goals by Ahmed Khalil, Palestine drubbed Malaysia 6-0 with Ahmed Nayea notching up a hat-trick. Saudi Arabia lead the group with 13 points from five matches, while the UAE are second on 10.

In Group G Lebanon had it easy over Laos, winning 7-0, while in Group H, Uzbekistan defeated North Korea 3-1.

Eight group winners and the four best-placed runners-up will proceed to the next stage of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The games also double as a means of entry to the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE. – Agence France-Presse

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