Record champions Japan have been given a helping hand from the referee as they defeated Oman 1-0 to seal their place in the Asian Cup knockout rounds while a four-goal haul from Almoez Ali inspired Qatar to a 6-0 thrashing of North Korea.
A contentious penalty from Genki Haraguchi put Japan in front in the 28th minute on Sunday in Abu Dhabi but Oman were furious Yuto Nagatomo's handball in the box was not punished on the stroke of halftime.
The victory puts Japan second in Group F on six points and left Oman on zero.
Uzbekistan later reached the next phase by thumping hapless Turkmenistan 4-0 in Dubai to top the group ahead of a decider with the Japanese on Thursday.
World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar top Group E on goal difference and meet Saudi Arabia, who are also guaranteed qualification, in a politically charged encounter to decide first place on Thursday.
Japan threatened a blitz early as Haraguchi hit the bar inside 90 seconds and Takumi Minamino missed several one-on-ones with keeper Faiyz Al Rusheidi.
The rebound from one of these sparked controversy as Raed Saleh appeared to clear the ball into the foot of Haraguchi who dusted himself down to convert from the spot.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu declined to comment on the penalty controversies: "I think it's all about the referee's judgement and I want to respect that."
Oman had threatened through Muhsen Al Ghassani who rounded Shuichi Gonda only to miss from a tight angle.
But they were denied a clear penalty when Nagatomo dived to block Salaah Al-Yahyaei's shot with his arm moments later.
With video assistance available only from the quarter-finals, Malaysian referee Mohd Amirul Izwan's mistakes went uncorrected.
In an evenly-balanced second half, Oman couldn't find a clear chance to level with Saleh's acrobatic effort flying wide the closest they came.
"Our goalkeeper made some fantastic saves, he kept us in the game," Oman coach Pim Verbeek said.
Verbeek said the spot-kick conceded was "a bit unlucky" and Oman's claim was a "100 per cent penalty," but stressed he was not criticising Izwan and Japan won deservedly.
Ali scored twice in each half for Qatar in Al Ain to go top of the scoring charts with five. Boualem Khoukhi headed the third shortly before the break and Abdelkarim Hassan completed the rout.
North Korea and Lebanon remain without a point but the winner of their meeting could still qualify as a third-placed team.
Turkmenistan are in the same situation when they face Oman but have work to do repairing their goal difference after disintegrating in the first half against Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile South Korea star Son Heung-min has arrived in the Middle East following his side Tottenham's Sunday game against Manchester United.
Son missed South Korea's wins over the Philippines and Kyrgyzstan but will be available for their final group game against China and for the rest of the tournament.