PIC SPECIAL: Japan v Australia

The result means Japan have booked their spot in Russia, while Australia's destiny in no longer in its own hands.

Takuma Asano beat the offside trap and volleyed home from Yuto Nagatomo's cross on 41 minutes to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at half-time.

Yosuke Ideguchi doubled Japan's lead to ignite the celebrations in front of 59,492 fans with a curling strike on 82 minutes after Jackson Irvine's turnover.

The result leaves Australia awkwardly placed to earn automatic World Cup qualification, sitting third in the group on goal difference by two goals behind Saudi Arabia.

Australia must better Saudi Arabia's result in the final matchday on Tuesday, with the Socceroos hosting Thailand in Melbourne, while the Green Falcons entertain the already qualified Japan in Jeddah.

If both sides win, Australia must overcome Saudi Arabia's goal difference advantage by winning by two goals more than the Green Falcons.

The Socceroos failed to create many clear cut chances and were punished by the Japanese with the home fans in full voice in Saitama. 

The hosts nearly hit the lead just two minutes into the game when Hiroki Sakai’s header sailed just wide of the post from a corner.

Australia looked nervy in the first 15 minutes as the Blue Samurai very nearly found the net again as Takashi Inui’s shot curled just past the goal, taking a slight deflection on route.

Moments later an Asano header may have clipped the post, but Maty Ryan was calm as Australia were defending well.    

The Socceroos then settled 20 minutes into the game as Massimo Luongo showed his phenomenal work rate to win the ball.

The visitors had their best chance in the 38th minute when Mathew Leckie’s shot took a deflection and touched the post en route.

But Japan would hit the lead with four minutes remaining in the first half as Nagamoto’s cross found as Asano tapped it past Ryan to make it 1-0.

The Blue Samurai went into the second half as they finished as Ryan and Trent Sainsbury snuffed out chances.

The Roos then had a golden opportunity as Brad Smith’s cross into the box was perfect but nobody was there, Leckie then picked it up but gave it up.

Tim Cahill came off the bench for Tomi Juric and was greeted with a hostile reception by the Ultra Nippon. 

With 19 minutes remaining Australia had their best chance as Robbie Kruse’s low ball in had Juric and Cahill going in, it caused a goalmouth scramble and eventually a free kick was paid to Japan.

Sainsbury was needed again to clear a Ideguchi shot off the line. But in the 82nd minute Japan iced the game as Genki Haraguchi teed up Ideguchi who struck the ball with irresistible power which left Ryan no chance.

Japan: 1. Eiji KAWASHIMA, 2. Yosuke IDEGUCHI, 3. Gen SHOJI, 5. Yuto NAGAMOTO, 14. Takashi INUI (75’ 8. Genki HARAGUCHI), 15. Yuka OSAKO (87’ 9. OKAZAKI Shinji), 16. Hotaru YAMAGUCHI, 17. Makoto HASEBE, 18. Asano TAKUMA (89’ 11. Yuya KUBO), 19. Hiroki SAKAI, 22. Maya YOSHIDA

Australia: 1. Maty RYAN, 3. Brad SMITH, 5. Mark MILLIGAN, 6. Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 7. Mathew Leckie, 10. Robbie KRUSE, 14. James TROISI (61’ 9. Tomi Juric), 20. Trent SAINSBURY, 21. Massimo LUONGO, 22. Jackson IRVINE (86’ 15. Mustafa AMINI), 23. Tomi ROGIC (70’ 4. Tim CAHILL)

Referee: Alireza Faghani

Attendance: 59492

PIC SPECIAL: Japan v Australia