The Socceroos and Japan played out an intense draw in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

48,460 pairs of eyes were on Etihad Stadium as the 2015 AFC Asian Cup Champions took on the Blue Samurai. After the disappointment of dropping two valuable points against Saudi Arabia in Jeddah on Friday the Socceroos were looking to start quickly against their rivals Japan.

However Ange Postecoglou’s men could not have started the game worse with Japan breaking through the lines with their first attack.

After a misplaced Matthew Spiranovic pass, Japan’s AC Milan superstar Keisuke Honda slipped a ball through to the pacey Genki Haraguchi with the Herta Berlin player casually slipping the ball past the oncoming Ryan.

That goal gave the Blue Samurai a fifth minute lead and they didn’t stop putting the Socceroos, who looked sluggish and lethargic, under immense pressure.

Tomi Juric was the one bright spark in a poor first half with his energetic and physical presence causing a few problems at the back for Japan.

Yet every time Australia looked to enforce themselves on the game, Japan would hit right back with a slick attacking move, targeting right back Ryan McGowan who struggled in the first 45 minutes.

The start of the second half saw much of the same until fortune fell Australia’s way.

Goalscorer Haraguchi fouled Juric inside the box after a clever ball from Brad Smith from the left flank. Captain Mile Jedinak stepped up to the spot and converted in the 52nd minute to level the scores at 1-1.

The goal breathed new life into the Socceroos who started to take the game to Japan.

The before unnoticed Luongo started to work his way into the match along with fellow midfielders Rogic and Mooy.

The introduction of Robbie Kruse gave Australia an attacking outlet down the flanks and opened up the Japanese defence.

With Japan on the back foot Tim Cahill was brought on to try and break the hearts of Japan once again.

But in the 74th minute Mathew Ryan denied Kobayashi with a terrific diving save, to keep the score locked at 1-1 whilst Australia pushed for a winner.

Neither team could find the winner leaving them to settle for a point, a point that will leave both in the top three of the their qualification group.

 

AUSTRALIA: 1 (Mile Jedinak 52′ (P) )
JAPAN: 1 (Haraguchi Genki (5’))

Referee: Nawaf Shukralla

AUSTRALIA: 1. Ryan Mathew (GK), 6. Spiranovic Matthew, 9 JURIC Tomi (4 CAHILL Tim 70’) , 13 MOOY Aaron (7 LECKIE Matthew 82’), 14 SMITH Brad, 15 JEDINAK Mile (C) (52’) , 17 GIANNOU Apostolos (10 Kruse Robbie 57’) , 19 MCGOWAN Ryan, 20 SAINSBURY Trent, 21 LUONGO Massimo, 23 ROGIC Tomas

JAPAN: 4. HONDA Keisuke (ASANO Takuma 84’), 6 Morishige Masato, 8 Haraguchi Genki (5’) (2 Maruyama Yuichi 91’), 10 Kagawa Shinji, 12 Nishikawa Shusaku (GK), 14 Kobayashi Yu (KIYOTAKE Hiroshi 82’), 16 Yamaguchi Hotaru, 17 Hasebe Makoto (C), 20 Makino Tomoaki, 21 Sakai Gotoku, 22 Yoshida Maya

 ATTENDANCE: 48,460

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