Substitute Kaoru Mitoma scored twice within the dying minutes as Japan beat Australia 2-0 to e-book their place at a seventh straight World Cup and in doing so additionally helped Saudi Arabia qualify.
It was a crushing blow for an understrength Socceroos who now face a deadly playoff to maintain alive their hopes of creating it to the event in Qatar.
The sport in a moist Sydney on Thursday regarded destined for a draw earlier than Mitoma transformed from shut vary on 89 minutes, after which once more after a mazy run in damage time to immediate joyous celebrations from the guests.
“I knew it was going to be a detailed match so once I was on the bench all I used to be pondering was, once I acquired on the sphere of play I simply needed to do my job and rating a purpose,” mentioned Mitoma, 24, who performs for Belgium’s Union SG on mortgage from Premier League Brighton.
“I really feel actually blissful for the gamers and other people again in Japan, and everybody who’s a Japanese fan.”
Victory pushed the Blue Samurai to the highest of Asian Group B qualifying on 21 factors, six away from Australia with just one extra recreation to play.
The Saudis, on 19 factors, face China in Sharjah in a while Thursday however are assured of their place in Qatar courtesy of Japan’s win.
Australia can not end increased than third, forcing a playoff in opposition to the third-placed workforce in Asian Group A. The winner will then meet a workforce from South America for the correct to play in Qatar later this 12 months.
Japan began their qualifying marketing campaign with two losses from their first three video games, however have now gained six in a row.
They headed into the high-stakes conflict in entrance of practically 42,000 followers at Stadium Australia with a transparent edge. Australia’s final win over them was in 2009 and Hajime Moriyasu’s males claimed a vital 2-1 victory when the 2 groups met in October.
Australia have been additionally lacking a string of gamers attributable to coronavirus results or damage, together with influential duo Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic.
In a lift, coach Graham Arnold returned to the sidelines after seven days in self-isolation after testing optimistic for coronavirus final week, however he was left pissed off.
“It’s clearly disappointing that we didn’t get the outcome that we wished,” mentioned Arnold, who has come beneath strain from Australia followers.
Australia now has to deal with qualifying for the World Cup by way of the playoff route for a second straight time.
“However on the finish of the day we’ve acquired the third place spot and also you’ve acquired to be optimistic about that. We’ve simply acquired to maneuver ahead. I’ve at all times mentioned I imagine in these boys and it’s one recreation at a time.”
Additionally in Asia, Spurs star Son Heung-min scored for South Korea on the stroke of halftime in a 2-0 dwelling win over Iran.
Each groups had already certified from Group A.
An brisk Japan began strongly with Liverpool star Takumi Minamino testing Socceroos keeper Mat Ryan inside the primary minute.
Situations have been troublesome within the rain and it took Australia 11 minutes to work their first shot, with a new-look midfield struggling to click on and create possibilities.
Whereas Japan managed the tempo, Australia acquired the ball within the internet on 25 minutes, ricocheting off Minamino from a Martin Boyle nook, nevertheless it was dominated out for an infringement.
Minamino was in every single place, clattering the submit with a header and hitting the crossbar minutes later as the possibilities piled up for the guests.
Australia went shut twice early within the second half however they rapidly drained as Japan once more asserted management and continually pressed for the winner.
Minamino once more went shut with 11 minutes left and it appeared headed for a draw earlier than the late heroics from Mitoma in solely his second worldwide.