Japan raised its score to 21 points from 9 games, compared to 19 for Saudi Arabia, which plays later with China in Sharjah, while Australia’s balance froze at 15 points from 9 games. The two goals of Japan’s substitute Kaoru Mitoma (89 and 90 +4), who entered in the 84th minute.
The champion and runner-up of each of the two groups qualifies for Qatar 2022, while the third of the two groups will meet and the winner between them will meet the fifth South American qualifier in an international supplement to reserve the World Cup ticket. Iran and South Korea had qualified for Group A.
The Japanese team, which made a slow start, after losing two matches in the first three rounds, returned strongly by achieving six consecutive victories, booking its World Cup card for the seventh consecutive time without interruption since 1998.
The “Samurai Blue” will play its last match against its humble guest, Vietnam, while Australia will defeat Saudi Arabia in the last round on Tuesday.
At the “Australia Stadium” in Sydney, the first half witnessed a great Japanese control, in which the Australian crossbar stood between Takumi Minamio, the attacking midfielder of Liverpool, and scored the net.
Minamino (27 years) manipulated the defense and missed a goal with a ground shot to the right of goalkeeper Matthew Ryan (28).
The second was much more dangerous for Minamino, with a charming header that bounced off the crossbar in front of the goal line, which Rhein watched after a beautiful cross from Junia Ito, the Belgian wing of Genk (31).
Australia responded with a long shot from the center player Conor Metcalf that changed its trajectory and almost deceived the veteran Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda (35).
The dangerous Japanese opportunities multiplied, so the Australian crossbar intervened again to save “Sukruz” from the dangerous Minamino, after a cross from left-back Yuto Nagatomo (37).
Michtel Duke responded with a header for Australia, thwarted by goalkeeper Gonda (40), to end the first half in a goalless draw.
Australia looked for a surprise for the Japanese early in the second half, but Aidan Hrucic shot with a strong left that surprised the goalkeeper and passed to his left side (47).
The two sides exchanged ineffective attempts in front of the goal, until the minute when Japan scored the winning goal through substitute Kaoru Mituma with a floor ball from inside the area after a pass from Miki Yamani (89).
While Australia was looking for a desperate equalizing goal, Japan scored the second in the fourth minute of the match instead of lost through Mituma as well, after an individual effort and a shot missed by the goalkeeper after a ball passed to him by Genko Haraguchi (90 + 4).
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