Boost for Australia as Japan draw with Iraq

The Caltex Socceroos are now just one point off top spot in Group B of their World Cup qualifying group after Japan were held by Iraq overnight.

A costly defensive mix-up involving Maya Yoshida saw Japan draw 1-1 against Iraq.

Yuya Osako's first-half header looked set to give Vahid Halilhodzic's men an important three points in the Group B clash in Tehran, but Mahdi Kamil capitalised on a mistake at the back to give Iraq a share of the spoils.

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The result puts Japan a point above Saudi Arabia and Australia ahead of their final two matches against those two teams later this year.

Japan were held to an unconvincing 1-1 draw by Syria in a friendly match last Wednesday but they needed only eight minutes to take the lead at Shahid Dastgerdi Stadium.

Genki Haraguchi's shot was well saved at the near post, but captain Keisuke Honda's resulting corner from the right was glanced expertly by Osako over Mohammed Gassid and into the bottom-right corner.

Japan’s lack of ambition to kill off the match would ultimately cost them, as Kamil made the most of some dreadful defensive play to secure only a fifth point from eight matches for Iraq.

The Group’s other match saw Thailand and the UAE also draw 1-1.

Group B is now set for a thrilling conclusion.

The Caltex Socceroos have a trip to Japan in August followed by a home tie with Thailand.

Japan travels Saudi Arabia in their final match, while the Saudi’s also have an away clash with UAE.