A ten-man Qantas Soccerroos side have secured a heroic draw against Japan at Brisbane Stadium.
A Luke Wilkshire penalty in the 70th minute saw a 10-man Australia salvage a 1-1 draw with Japan in their AFC World Cup qualifier at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday night.
Japan looked certain to go three from three and were well on their way when Yuzo Kurihara netted from close range five minutes after Saudi referee Khalil Al Ghamdi awarded Mark Milligan his second yellow card.
But Al Ghamdi intervened again five minutes later, awarding a penalty against Atsuto Uchida for holding striker Alex Brosque as the Socceroos threatened from a corner.
Wilkshire stepped up and buried the penalty hard and straight to rescue a result that seemed so unlikely minutes earlier.
In stoppage time Wilkshire almost stole victory with a long-range free-kick with only the desperate fingertips of Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima ensuring the stalemate.
Japan also had a man sent off in the encounter, with goalscorer Kurihara committing a second bookable offence to be given his marching orders in the 89th minute.
The Blue Samurai dazzled the Socceroos for much of the match and finally found the net in the 65th minute when Keisuke Honda danced along the by-line and passed across goal for Kurihara who made no mistake and sent the Japanese players and fans into raptures.
Japan had one last chance to steal victory when Honda lined up a free-kick but referee Al Ghamdi halted proceedings, blowing the full-time whistle as Honda prepared to strike.
Tim Cahill was recalled to the starting side at the expense of Harry Kewell and made a marked difference early as the Socceroos delivered on their promise to attack from the outset.
There was plenty of intent and physicality from the home side early but the Blue Samurai were unfazed and continued to go about their business in classy fashion.
Mark Bresciano was instrumental in getting the Socceroos on the attack and helped get David Carney and Carl Valeri good looks at goal from the top of the box, but both missed the target.
The Socceroos- initial onslaught was interrupted when Bresciano came from the field in the 13th minute with an apparent groin injury - replaced by Milligan.
Japan held their nerve and slowly but surely gained the ascendancy in what turned out to be a high-class, fast-paced international.
The deft midfield work of Honda and Sir Alex Ferguson's latest acquisition Shinji Kagawa was breathtaking at times and deserved to be rewarded - and almost was when the pair combined only for Honda to fire straight into the waiting arms of Mark Schwarzer.
In the 19th minute only a remarkable clearance from Kurihara stopped the Socceroos from grabbing a decisive goal.
Cahill, Lucas Neill and Brosque all had a chance to bury the opportunity in a goalmouth scramble before Kurihara, laying on his back, miraculously cleared over the crossbar.
As the half wore on the momentum clearly moved in favour of the visitors, but their execution in front of goal let them down.
Kagawa, with Honda as his offsider, was running riot for Japan but couldn't find the back of the net and at half-time Australia had five shots on target to Japan's one.
The game turned with Milligan's red card, which was controversial after the midfielder attempted a volley and accidentally made contact with his Japanese marker.
Japan found the opener soon after through Kurihara, and they looked comfortable with their numerical advantage intact.
Wilkshire cancelled out Kurihara's effort with his penalty five minutes later, and the Socceroos settled for a point despite piling on the pressure late on.
Australia 1 (Wilkshire 70'pen) Japan 1 (Kurihara 65') @ Suncorp Stadium Crowd: 40,189
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