KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — China's hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup were dented with a 0-0 draw at Hong Kong in a tense Group C encounter.

The result Tuesday means China, aiming to add to its only appearance at the World Cup in 2002, is now seven points behind group leader Qatar and three adrift of Hong Kong with two games remaining in the second round of Asian qualification.

Only the eight group winners and four best second-place teams will progress to the last stage of Asia's road to Russia.

China hit the woodwork twice and had a goal controversially disallowed but just could not find a way past a resolute Hong Kong backline. Now the world's most populous nation is third in the group, needing to win its remaining two games in a bid to become one of the four best runners-up across the qualifiers.

That result enabled Qatar to confirm top spot and a place in the final stage with a 3-0 win, a sixth successive victory, over Bhutan.

Elsewhere, Asia's major powers all recorded comfortable victories.

Tim Cahill's first-half hat-trick helped Australia to a 4-0 win over Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Despite arriving in Bangladesh the day before the game due to security concerns, it was an easy win for the Socceroos against a team it beat 5-0 in Perth in September.

Cahill opened the scoring after just six minutes and the former Everton star completed his three-goal haul 31 minutes later. There was still time before the break for Mile Jedinak of Crystal Palace to add a fourth.

Australia has 15 points from six games in Group B. Jordan slipped two points behind Australia when it lost 1-0 to Kyrgyzstan.

South Korea made it six wins out of six. Two goals each for Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City's Ki Sung-yeung helped the Taeguk Warriors to a 5-0 win over Laos. Japan won 2-0 in Cambodia.

Despite missing captain Andranik Teymourian and three other players reportedly due to visa issues, Iran thrashed Guam 6-0.

Media reports in Tehran said some players and staff were unable to enter Guam, but Carlos Queiroz's Iran squad had few difficulties on the field.

Mehdi Taremi opened the scoring after 12 minutes and Iran, aiming to reach a fifth World Cup, dominated throughout the game to move three points ahead of Oman in the group.

Elsewhere, North Korea defeated Bahrain 2-0, Saudi Arabia thrashed East Timor 10-0, Syria won 2-1 in Singapore and Iraq won 2-0 in Taiwan.