World Cup Qualifiers - Asia

World Cup Qualifiers - Asia (3)

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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