Alex Brosque, who came on as a substitute, saved Australian blushes with a late winner to deny Thailand a battling point in Brisbane, while Michihiro Yasuda scored in stoppage time to give an undermanned Japan a 1-0 home win over North Korea.
Win the only positive for Australia's Schwarzer
Australia and Japan needed late winners at home on the opening day of third-round World Cup qualifying in Asia yesterday.
Alex Brosque, who came on as a substitute, saved Australian blushes with a late winner to deny Thailand a battling point in Brisbane.
The Socceroos trailed to a shock 15th-minute strike before coming from behind to claw back a 2-1 victory in their opening match of Group D.
The Thais, ranked 98 places below Asia's second-rated team, threatened a major upset when Teerasil Dangda gave them a stunning lead.
But Australia, bidding for their third consecutive finals' appearance in Brazil in three years' time, fought back to take all three points with goals from Josh Kennedy and Brosque.
"It feels like a loss," Mark Schwarzer, the Australia goalkeeper, said. "It was one of our worst performances for a long time and there are no excuses, we weren't good enough at times, but at least we won which is the positive."
The Australians take on Saudi Arabia in their second World Cup qualifier in Dammam on Tuesday, while Thailand, who are coached by Winfried Schaefer, the former Al Ain manager, host Oman in Bangkok.
Oman were held to a 0-0 draw at home by the Saudis yesterday.
In Group C, Michihiro Yasuda scored in stoppage time to give an undermanned Japan a 1-0 home win over North Korea.
Japan could not crack the Koreans' trademark resolute defence until Yasuda got the winner in the third minute of stoppage time.
Japan won despite being without the injured trio of Keisuke Honda, Kengo Nakamura and Yuto Nagatomo.
North Korea substitute Pak Kwang-ryong was sent off in the 86th minute. Uzbekistan beat Tajikistan 1-0 away in the group's other game.
In Group A, China overcame a half-time deficit to beat Singapore 2-1, giving Jose Antonio Camacho, the former Spain coach, a win in his first competitive game in charge.
Jordan scored either side of half time to secure a 2-0 win away to Iraq in the group's late match.