Sport Football Socceroos draw with Saudi Arabia in World Cup qualifier
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Socceroos draw with Saudi Arabia in World Cup qualifier

Australia's Mark Milligan is marked by Saudi's Nawaf Alabid. Photo: Getty
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Australia has failed to nab a victory for the first time in this round of its qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held to a 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabia.

In stifling conditions in Jeddah on Friday morning (AEDT), the Socceroos fell behind early when Taisir al-Jassim found space in the box in just the fifth minute.

But a corner right on half-time allowed Australia to equalise, when Trent Sainsbury leapt highest to nod home Aaron Mooy’s ball into the box.

The Socceroos hit the front in the 71st minute when Robbie Kruse broke down the right and crossed in to the boot of Tomi Juric for a 2-1 lead.

Unfortunately for the visiting Aussies, Saudi star Nassir al-Shamrani poked home the equaliser shortly after.

Matthew Spiranovic missed a golden opportunity to put the Socceroos back in front in the final few minutes when he controlled a fumble from goalkeeper Yasser al-Mosailem, but could not put boot to ball.

Australia had beaten Iraq 2-0 and United Arab Emirates 1-0 before Friday’s game and next lines up in Melbourne on Tuesday for a game against Japan, who beat Iraq in Saitama with a late winner.

Hotaru Yamaguchi scored five minutes into stoppage time at Saitama Stadium to secure a 2-1 win, which has Japan third in qualifying group B.

The victory gave them six points from three games, along with UAE, but Saudi Arabia and Australia moved ahead of them with seven points. Australia is top on goal difference.

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