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UPDATE 1-Soccer-Japan hit late winner, Australia held by Saudis
October 6, 2016 / 8:01 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Soccer-Japan hit late winner, Australia held by Saudis

(Adds Saudi-Australia result, changes headline)

Oct 6 (Reuters) - Japan’s Hotaru Yamaguchi scored five minutes into stoppage time at Saitama Stadium to secure a 2-1 win over Iraq in 2018 World Cup qualifying on Thursday.

The victory gave them six points from three games, along with United Arab Emirates, but Saudi Arabia and Australia moved ahead of them with seven points in Group B, staying unbeaten after a 2-2 draw in Jeddah.

Australia are top on goal difference.

Japan made a disappointing start to the final stage of Asian qualifying with a 2-1 home defeat by the United Arab Emirates last month before victories over Thailand and the Iraqis.

They took the lead in the 26th minute through Genki Haraguchi who capped a flowing counter attack with a sublime back-heel finish through his own legs from Hiroshi Kiyotake’s near-post cross.

Iraq levelled when Saad Luaibi rose highest to nod home Ahmed Yaseen’s free kick with an hour gone.

Japan piled forward in the closing stages in search of the winner and were rewarded when Yamaguchi hammered home a loose ball.

Australia fell behind in Jeddah to an early goal by Tasir Al-Jassim but equalised just before the interval with Trent Sainsbury’s header.

Tomi Juric put the Socceroos ahead in the 71st minute but nine minutes from the end Nassir Al-Shamrani earned the hosts a point, leaving both sides with two wins and a draw from their opening matches.

The top two in Group A and B qualify for the World Cup in Russia while the third-placed teams meet to decide who goes into a CONCACAF-Asian Zone playoff for a place at the finals. (Writing by Peter Rutherford and Steve Tongue; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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