The Socceroos were held to a one-all draw by Japan at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne last night in their World Cup qualifying match.
The Australians got off to a dreadful start when they conceded the first goal from Genki Haraguchi in the first four minutes.
AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda’s brilliant repossession of the ball in the middle of the park allowed him to play a through ball on to Hertha Berlin striker Genki Haraguchi, who kept his composure in front of goal and slotted it past Mat Ryan to put Japan in the lead.
Japan, known as the ‘Samurai blue’ were applying all the pressure in the first half and keeping the Aussies on the back foot.
The second half commenced and Australia looked a completely different side, pressing high up the pitch and applying pressure to the Japanese defensive line.
Australia’s high octane pressure proved to work in their favour when striker Tomi Juric was brought down inside the box in the 50th minute. Captain Mile Jedinak got the breakthrough Australia needed. He stepped up to the spot and calmly sent the Japanese keeper in the wrong direction to put his team back in the contest.
Australian football legend Tim Cahill was brought on to replace Tomi Juric with 20 minutes to go as the Socceroos searched for a late winner but the shares were spoiled as the referee blew the whistle for full-time.
The draw now leaves Australia in second place in group B behind Saudi Arabia on eight points and their next assignment is against Thailand on November 15. – Ben Owusu
Photo of the Japanese and the Australians showing great sportsmanship from the Socceroos Twitter feed.