Ahmed Khalil was the hero for United Arab Emirates as they came from behind to stun hosts Japan with a 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory in Saitama.
Japan began their opening match in Group B – the final round-robin phase of AFC qualification for Russia 2018 – in confident fashion and led through Keisuke Honda's early header.
But a superb free-kick from Khalil pulled UAE level and he coolly converted a 54th minute penalty after Ryota Ohshima fouled Ismail Alhammadi.
An onslaught then followed from Vahid Halilhodzic's men and they were rightly aggrieved when the officials failed to spot substitute Takuma Asano's shot had crossed the line before being parried away by Khalid Eisa.
As well as lamenting a run of decisions going against them, Japan could also dwell on a string of missed chances in a damaging start to a competitive section also featuring Australia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
Halilhodzic's side pushed their visitors back from kick-off, dominating possession before a buoyant home crowd, and they led after 11 minutes when Honda was unmarked to power home Hiroshi Kiyotake's right-wing free-kick at the back post.
Shinji Okazaki then broke clear of the UAE defence but blazed wide on the end of Shinji Kagawa's pass, before the visitors stunned Saitama Stadium with a 20th-minute leveller.
Maya Yoshida was booked after Ali Mabkhout went to ground theatrically under his challenge but there was nothing dubious about Khalil's resulting strike, a sumptuous effort that Shusaku Nishikawa could only palm against the underside of his crossbar on its way in.
UAE did not heed the warning over Honda's aerial prowess and the AC Milan midfielder was again left unattended on the end of a floated cross from Gotoku Sakai.
Eisa shovelled the ball off his goalline and Kagawa should have done better than prodding the rebound wide.
Japan remained in control until the interval but were almost behind against the run of play when Mabkhout raced clear to be denied by Nishikawa.
Ohshima had a stinging drive turned over after half-time but it was his trip on Alhammadi at the end of an untidy passage of play that allowed captain Khalil to nonchalantly chip home from 12 yards.
Kiyotake failed to connect with a low cross as Japan sought an equaliser and Okazaki headed a Honda delivery against the bar before Asano being wrongfully denied added controversy to a frantic finale.
Aussies Abroad: Leckie on target in Hertha's Bundesliga draw
Mathew Leckie was on the scoresheet in Hertha Berlin’s 2-2 draw with Augsburg in this morning’s Bundesliga clash. The 27-year-old finished off a rapid counter attack from Hertha in the first half to level the scores at 1-1. Leckie’s strike is his second in five Bundesliga m
Aussies Abroad: Rogic, Vukovic primed for big UEFA Europa League ties
Tom Rogic and Celtic will face traditional La Liga powerhouse Valencia while Danny Vukovic’s Gent take on Czech giants Slavia Prague after the draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 was made on Tuesday morning (AEDT). Celtic scrapped through by the skin of their teeth, af
Aussies Abroad: Jeggo stars in Vienna derby, Ryan edged by Chelsea in Premier League
A clean sheet, a title race and a derby goal headlined an action-packed night for our overseas Australians. In Austria, James Jeggo opened his account for the season in Austria Wien’s 6-1 hammering of Rapid Wien in the Vienna derby. DEGENEK REFLECTS: Caltex Socceroos defend
Aussies Abroad: Luongo, Irvine help sides to important Championship wins
Massimo Luongo and Jackson Irvine both braved atrocious English weather to help steer their sides to Championship victories on Sunday morning (AEDT). And in warmer temperatures, Matt Jurman’s Al Ittihad broke through for their first win of the Saudi Arabia Pro League season at