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Japan defeats Australia and floats in the qualifiers

Japan defeats Australia and floats in the qualifiers

An Australian own goal kept Japan plugged into the fight for a direct Asian berth for next year’s World Cup.

Australian defender Aziz Behich scored the own goal in the 85th minute, bringing home Japan a 2-1 win on Tuesday. Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan slammed a shot from Takuma Asano and the ball bounced off the post and then off Behich before nestling into the net.

The Japanese were left with six points after four games in Group B, three units behind the Australian leaders.

Only the top two teams from each of the two groups of six teams advance directly to the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

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Ao Tanaka put Japan ahead in the 8th minute in Saitama, but Ajdin Hrustic leveled for Australia in the 70th minute.

“It was an all-out battle,” said Australian coach Graham Arnold. “A misfortune with the shot to the post … It was not what we wanted, but we have nine points in four games.”

Australia, who had chained 11 victories, received a penalty in the middle of the second half when Hidemasa Morita dropped Hrustic to the edge of the area.

But before Martin Boyle could execute the shot, the Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim changed the decision after the intervention of the VAR who found that the foul was outside the area.

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Japan is trying to qualify for its seventh World Cup in a row. Australia has competed in every World Cup since 2006. AFP (HN)

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