World Cup qualifying: Japan win, Australia stunned


SAITAMA, Japan (AP) A first-half penalty from Hiroshi Kiyotake helped Japan to a much-needed 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in the third round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup at Saitama Stadium on Tuesday.

A handball in the area gave Kiyotake his opportunity in the 45th minute, and Genki Haraguchi added a second for Japan with 11 minutes remaining.

Omar Hawsawi scored for Saudi Arabia with a minute left.

The victory moves Japan level with Saudi Arabia with 10 points after five Group B games and marks the first loss for Saudi Arabia, which still holds the top spot on goal differential.

The top two teams in the two groups will qualify automatically for the World Cup, with the two third-place teams playing to decide which advances to the intercontinental playoffs.

UPDATE: Elsewhere in Group B, Australia could only draw 2-2 away at Thailand in a shock result in Bangkok. The Socceroos took the lead through a Mile Jedinak penalty but needed another PK 25 minutes from time to grab a point following Teerasil Dangda’s double for Thailand.

The result means Australia sits third in the group and would have to go through a playoff against the third place team in Group A and then the fourth-placed team in CONCACAF to reach the 2018 World Cup.