Japan earn tough away draw against Australia

Japan earn tough away draw against Australia

The Japan national team fought to a 1-1 draw with rivals Australia on Tuesday night in a crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

The Samurai Blue made four changes to their starting lineup from Thursday’s 2-1 win against Iraq, with Keisuke Honda established as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation which included five J.League players in Shusaku Nishikawa, Masato Morishige, Tomoaki Makino, Hotaru Yamaguchi, and Yu Kobayashi.

Their early tactics were rewarded just five minutes into the match when Hertha BSC attacker Genki Haraguchi slotted the ball under goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

Japan held on for a 1-0 halftime lead despite an increasingly persistent Australia attack, but shortly into the second half it was Haraguchi again at the center of things. 

This time, his foul on an Australian attacker saw the referee point to the spot, with captain Mile Jedinak successfully converting to even the score at 1-1.

The game ended honours even, but not before FC Tokyo defender Yuichi Maruyama made his international debut in stoppage time. 

The result sees Japan move to third place in Group B with seven points from four matches; their next qualifier will take place against group leaders Saudi Arabia on November 15 at Saitama Stadium.

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