Australia v Japan: The rivalry continues

Ahead of Australia's vital 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Blue Samurai on Tuesday in Saitama, Sham Majid takes a look back at some of their epic clashes
Since Australia first locked horns with Japan in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, their battles have anything but ordinary.

Fast developing as Asia's most intense rivalry, Australia and Japan have been embroiled in epic encounters consisting of plenty of dramatic goals, red cards and even a penalty shoot-out.

In the build up to Tuesday's 2014 World Cup qualifier, Goal Australia tracks the making of a rivalry borne out of that sunny day in Kaiserslautern in 2006.

JULY 21, 2007

2007 AFC Cup quarter finals: Japan 1-1 Australia [4-3 on penalties]

Veteran John Aloisi smashed home a 69th-minute volley after Mark Bresciano flicked a Harry Kewell corner, but a defensive howler from Mark Milligan two minutes later enabled Naohiro Takahara to take full advantage by slamming home an effort off the post. The Socceroos suffered a body-blow in the 76th-minute of the quarter-final when Vince Grella was sent off for elbowing Takahara as the duo challenged for a header. With nothing separating both sides even after extra-time, Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill then missed their spot-kicks. Takahara gave Australia a glimmer of hope when he blazed his effort over the bar, but Yuji Nakazawa converted the penultimate penalty as Japan exorcised their 2006 World Cup loss to the Socceroos just a year earlier.

FEBRUARY 11, 2009

2010 World Cup qualifying: Japan 0-0 Australia

Backed by a partisan 65,000 home crowd in Yokohama, the Samurai Blue subjected Australia to an early attacking frenzy. But the Socceroos demonstrated remarkable defensive steel and composure to thwart their counterparts. Japan should have scored in the fifth minute but striker Keiji Tamada's effort struck the side netting. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer then conjured up a fantastic reflex save to foil a Yasuhito Endo attempt in the 70th minute. Japan should have stolen all three points late but Yoshito Okubo deflected Makoto Hasebe's strike agonizingly wide of the post, as the Socceroos returned to Melbourne with a superb point.

JUNE 17, 2009

2010 World Cup qualifying: Australia 2-1 Japan

With both teams having already booked their tickets for the 2010 World Cup, the Socceroos earned the bragging rights with a 2-1 win at the MCG. Japan drew first blood in the 40th minute after Marcus Tulio Tanaka beat Tim Cahill to guide a majestic header past custodian Mark Schwarzer. The goal saw the Socceroos' defensive rearguard being breached for the first and only time in eight matches of the final qualification phase. Cahill then equalized for Australia in the 59th minute when he delivered a trademark header from a corner kick. He struck again in the 76th minute when Nick Carle's corner caused mayhem in the Japanese box and the then-Everton man bundled home the winner.

JANUARY 29, 2011

2011 Asian Cup final: Japan 1-0 Australia [a.e.t]

The Socceroos attacked the Blue Samurai from kick-off in the 2011 Asian Cup final. Harry Kewell latched onto a Tim Cahill flick-on and slammed his effort into the side netting in the first half. In the 71st minute, Kewell had a golden opportunity to open Australia's account but Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima produced a brilliant block to deny him and win the one-on-one battle. In the 109th minute, Japan substitute Tadanari Lee took full advantage of a tired Socceroos defence to deliver a text-book volley past goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and send the Samurai Blue into a wild frenzy. They held on to that lead to earn a record fourth Asian Cup crown.

JUNE 12, 2012

2014 World Cup qualifying: Australia 1-1 Japan

Both sides took to the pitch once again in their bid to qualify for the 2014 samba edition in Brazil. Mark Milligan's Japan misery continued when he was red carded in the 55th minute for a second bookable offence. Things got worse just ten minutes later when Yuzo Kurihara slotted home after being released by playmaker Keisuke Honda. Nevertheless, the home side earned a reprieve in the 69th minute when Atsuto Uchida impeded forward Alex Brosque in the box and full-back Luke Wilkshire converted from the spot. Kurihara then earned his marching orders in the 89th minute after collecting his second yellow. Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima again stood tall for his country to produce a magnificent save to deny Wilkshire from a free-kick as both sides settled for a share of the spoils.

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