Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni praised his team for their performance after securing a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Australia in Brisbane.
Zaccheroni’s team took the lead thanks to Yuzo Kurihara’s close-range goal in the Asian Football Confederation qualifying match for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The visitors surrendered the equaliser just three minutes later following a questionable penalty kick awarded to the hosts, which was converted by Luke Wilkshire.
Australia were already down to 10 men after Mark Milligan had received his marching orders for a second bookable offence on Astuto Uchida, but the Italian coach was pleased with his side’s performance.
“Australia played to win and fought with their physicality, experience, and cunning,” Zaccheroni said.
“But we didn’t let ourselves be defeated by that and fought back just as hard.
“We had a difficult start but we overcame that and gained control of the match. For an away game Japan played magnificently.”
Playmaker Keisuke Honda crossed for Kurihara’s goal and despite failing to score in a third successive World Cup qualifier, he was satisfied with the result.
“Of course we wanted to win, but a 1-1 away result isn’t bad at all,” the CSKA Moscow attacker said.
“All we can do is take it as a good result and think ahead to the next match.”
Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who prevented several Socceroo goals with superb saves throughout the match, praised his team-mates for standing up to their physical opponents.
“We knew that they would attack with long balls and crosses, but each one of us put our bodies on the line and stopped them,” the 29-year-old said.
Japan continue to lead Group B of AFC qualifying with seven points from three games, while Australia have just two points from two matches.
The teams are next in action on September 11, when Japan host Iraq and Australia travel to Jordan.