South Korea earned a 2-0 win at home to Kuwait in Group One as the Second phase of Asian qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup finals got underway.
A volley from Lee Dong-gook midway through the first half set the 2002 semi-finalists on their way. Lee Young-pyo added a second 9 minutes from time.
The other Group One game between Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia saw Sami Al Jaber put the Saudis in front on 77 minutes but Anvar Soliev was on hand to level the match in injury time.
In Group 2 Japan opened their second round of qualifiers with a last gasp winner over North Korea.
The match looked to be heading for a draw until Masashi Oguro struck the winner two minutes into injury time to give Japan the ideal result in Saitama.
The home side had taken an early lead when Mitsuo Ogasawara curled in a free kick after just four minutes, before Nam Song-chol levelled the scores.
In the group’s other game, the match between Bahrain and Iran ended goalless.
The top two teams from each group automatically progress to the finals in Germany, while the third-placed teams play off against each other before meeting a team from the Concacaf region.
South Korea 2-0 Kuwait
Uzbekistan 1-1 Saudi Arabia
Bahrain 0-0 Iran
Japan 2-1 North Korea