World Cup Qualifiers - Asia

World Cup Qualifiers - Asia (5)

Australia were unable to finish on a high in the third round of World Cup qualifying as they fell to a 1-0 defeat in a dead rubber against Saudi Arabia in Jeddah. 

A 2-0 loss to Japan last Thursday ended the Socceroos' hopes of earning automatic qualification to Qatar 2022 with Salem-Al Dawsari's second-half penalty securing top spot in Group B for the Green Falcons. 

Awer Mabil narrowly missed the target from Martin Boyle's cross in the 12th minute and the latter had a goal ruled out following a lengthy VAR review shortly before half-time. 

Graham Arnold replaced Bruno Fornaroli with debutant Nicholas D'Agostino at half-time but Saudi Arabia continued to control possession. 

The hosts were awarded a penalty when James Jeggo clipped Sami Al Najei and Al Dawsari coolly guided the spot-kick into the bottom-right corner. 

Australia did not go close to finding an equaliser – Ajdin Hrustic wasted their best opportunity – and needed Mat Ryan to stop Firas Al Buraikan making it 2-0 in the final 10 minutes.

The Socceroos must now take on the United Arab Emirates for a place in an intercontinental play-off against a South American team, where a place in Qatar will be on the line. 

A brace from Abdullah Fawaz, including a late penalty, earned Oman a 2-2 draw with Australia, putting a dent in the Socceroos' hopes of an automatic qualifying spot for the 2022 World Cup.

While they are guaranteed at least a playoff spot in Group B of Asia's World Cup qualifiers, Australia now sit three points behind Japan and four adrift of leaders Saudi Arabia with two games to play.

Australia were denied the lead in the fifth minute after Trent Sainsbury's header from an Aaron Mooy free-kick was ruled out by an offside flag, but the visitors had a penalty just nine minutes later when Oman goalkeeper Faiyz Al Rusheidi brought down Martin Boyle, and Jamie Maclaren successfully placed his spot kick high to the keeper's left.

Oman levelled in sensational style early in the second half as Abdullah received a pass from the left by Munzer Al-Alawi before firing a fierce strike high into the top-left corner, giving Mat Ryan no chance.

Australia regained the lead with just over ten minutes to go when a cross from the left was headed down to substitute Mitchell Duke, who cushioned the ball back for Mooy to fire past Al Rusheidi.

However, more drama followed as substitute Muhsen Al Ghassani was felled by Fran Karacic in the box, and Abdullah sent Ryan the wrong way with his penalty to earn Oman a draw and dampen Australia's hopes of a top-two finish.

Australia were forced to settle for a point in their World Cup qualifier against China after a 1-1 draw in the UAE.

After winning 11 games in a row, including a 3-0 victory against China in the reverse fixture in September, the Socceroos are now winless in three – their worst such run since June 2018.

Australia led in this match, though, following a quiet start, as Martin Boyle's cross was headed in emphatically by Mitch Duke seven minutes before the break.

Despite creating little for the first hour, China were level on 70 minutes when James Jeggo was adjudged by a VAR review to have handled in the penalty area, allowing Wu Lei to send Mat Ryan the wrong way from the spot.

Both sides pushed for a winner in the closing stages, but neither came particularly close to getting it, forced instead to make do with a point apiece.

The draw sees Australia move on to 11 points in Group B in the third round of AFC World Cup qualifying, five behind leaders Saudi Arabia, while China have five points.

Saudi Arabia remain top of World Cup qualifying Group B after they held second-placed Australia to a goalless draw in a feisty contest at the Western Sydney Stadium.

Playing their first home game since October 2019 and backed by an expectant crowd in driving rain on Thursday, the Socceroos were devoid of quality in the final third as they had to settle for a point.

Herve Renard's men lost their 100 per cent record, but remain three points clear of Australia and on course to secure their place in the World Cup in Qatar next year.

The Socceroos - missing Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy and Adam Taggart - made a strong start but lacked a cutting edge as Ajdin Hrustic was off target before Awer Mabil fired wide.

Graham Arnold's side continued to dictate the play after the break, with Mathew Leckie forcing a save from Mohammed Al Yami and Jackson Irvine side-footing wastefully wide from close range.

Al Yami denied Martin Boyle with his feet after making a hard work of keeping out a tame Mabil free-kick, while Mat Ryan thwarted Salman Al-Faraj and Salem Al Dawsari at the other end.

Australia defender Harry Souttar was carried off with a serious looking injury before Saleh Al-Shehri nodded just wide and Salem Al-Dawsari had a long-range drive saved by Ryan as Saudi Arabia finished strongly 

Al-Dawsari called Ryan into action again with a long-range drive, but neither side could conjure up a winner on a miserable evening in Parramatta.

Australia's perfect record in World Cup 2022 qualifying was ended in a 2-1 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.

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