Japan defeated Iraq 2-1 on Thursday night in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying thanks to a dramatic stoppage-time goal by Cerezo Osaka midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi.
J.Leaguers Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo) and Yosuke Kashiwagi (Urawa Reds) started the match at Saitama Stadium on the pitch.
The first half went well for the hosts, with Genki Haraguchi heeling the ball into the net to take the lead in the 25th minute.
But the Samurai Blue were thrown into disarray at the hour mark when Iraq equalised on a set play, and the pressure for a game-winner increased as the second half continued.
With six minutes of stoppage time on the board and one last-gasp corner kick remaining, it was Yamaguchi who pounced on a loose ball to deliver a stunning volley and give Japan a crucial victory.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s men will now travel to face reigning Asian champions Australia, who drew 2-2 with Saudi Arabia, in Melbourne on Tuesday.