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Japan 2-1 Australia: Socceroos' record winning run comes to an end

Ao Tanaka

Saitama (Japan), October 12: Australia's perfect record in World Cup 2022 qualifying was ended in a 1-2 defeat to Japan on Tuesday.

The Socceroos had won all 11 games on the road to Qatar – setting a record in the process – and each of their last 12 games stretching back into the last campaign.

But Ao Tanaka's early strike in Saitama and a late own goal from Aziz Behich, either side of Ajdin Hrustic's leveller, inflicted a first competitive defeat on Australia since January 2019.

Graham Arnold's side could now see top spot in Group B relinquished to Saudi Arabia, who play later on Thursday. Only the top two sides will qualify automatically for the World Cup.

Japan entered the game unbeaten in seven meetings with Australia and they were ahead inside eight minutes when Tanaka drilled a low shot into the bottom-left corner.

Australia went close to equalising before half-time as Adam Taggart's shot was tipped onto the upright and Aaron Mooy's effort was blocked in front of goal from the follow-up.

The visitors then had a penalty overturned as the officials felt Hidemasa Morita's challenge on Hrustic was outside the box, but the fouled player still made Japan pay as his powerful free-kick crashed in off the underside off the crossbar.

But it was Japan who snatched a winner with five minutes remaining.

Mat Ryan could only parry substitute Takuma Asano's deflected shot into the air and Behich, in an attempt to clear the ball from under the crossbar, turned it into his own net.

Germany rules out boycott

Meanwhile, despite the majority of the country being in favor of boycotting Qatar 2022, DFB vice president Peter Peters says Germany will take part, citing "progress" made. "I've no reason to doubt the Qataris," he said.

Werner brace helps secure World Cup spot for Die MannschaftWerner brace helps secure World Cup spot for Die Mannschaft

Germany had become the first national team to qualify for the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar after beating North Macedonia 4-0 in Skopje on Monday.

Earlier that day, the German football association (DFB) published an interview on its website with vice president Peter Peters, in which he was asked about the possibility of Germany boycotting the tournament in Qatar due to the country's human rights record.

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Story first published: Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 18:00 [IST]
Other articles published on Oct 12, 2021