x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Australia beat Japan to finish top

A second half double from Tim Cahill gives the Socceroos a 2-1 win over Japan and sends them to the top of Asian World Cup qualifying Group One.

MELBOURNE // Australia came from behind to beat Japan 2-1 thanks to a second half double from Tim Cahill today to finish top of Asian World Cup qualifying Group One. Both countries had already reached the 2010 finals in South Africa with their last qualifier, played out by second-string teams, deciding who would take the plaudits in the group. Cahill struck just before the hour and in the 77th minute after Japan's Brazilian-born defender Tulio ended Australia's seven-game streak of clean sheets with a header in the 40th. Cahill's brace will have brought back painful memories for Japan fans who saw the attacking midfielder score two late goals to help Australia clinch a rousing 3-1 comeback victory in their group match at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

In Group Two a late Park Ji-sung goal earned South Korea a 1-1 draw against Iran, jeopardising Iran's chances of qualifying for next year's finals in South Africa. An own goal early in the second half put Iran ahead and on course for at least a further play-off in Asian qualifying.

However, Park's 81st-minute equaliser means Iran's World Cup hopes now rest on the outcome of Wednesday's later qualifier between Saudi Arabia and North Korea. If that match ends in a draw or Saudi Arabia wins, Iran will be eliminated. If North Korea wins, Iran will get a further play-off. South Korea have already secured a berth at the 2010 World Cup. *Agencies