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Socceroos vs Japan, FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifiers, news, scores, results, football 2021, standings, highlights, Aaron Mooy

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The Socceroos fell to a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat in Japan on Tuesday night after being outplayed for much of the World Cup qualifier.

While gloveman and captain Mat Ryan made some fantastic stops, Australia’s defensive line struggled throughout – and it wasn’t too much better going forward.

Here’s how every player performed in the clash.

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Mat Ryan: 7

There was nothing he could do to deny the opening goal, but he was superb after that early blow. Ryan was courageous in diving forward to snuff out a first-half chance, and his double-save in the second half was top-drawer. Ryan misread a wide free kick and was left in no-man’s land after coming out for the ball, and was lucky the header was sent wide. His distribution was mostly exceptional, as he was forced to play the ball far more often than he would have preferred. But he was at fault for the final goal, making a poor pass that gave away the ball.

Aziz Behich: 2.5

It’s a game he’ll want to forget in a hurry. Much of Japan’s first-half attack came down his left flank, and he was beaten badly three times in the opening ten minutes – including a woeful misread for Japan’s first goal.

Behich looked tired from the off, and Graham Arnold will be ruing the absence of left-sided defender Brad Smith, who tested positive for Covid-19 before he was able to travel from the US for the current pair of fixtures. Behich and Aaron Mooy were left in all sorts of confusion in defensive transitions, with the fullback left furiously screaming at his teammates after half an hour over their movement in both defence and attack. He too often looked backwards with passes to Ryan rather than forwards.

Japan winger Ito gave him headaches all evening and Behich rightly received a caution after the hour mark for dragging him down. It was all capped off with an own goal to seal the defeat.

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Trent Sainsbury: 4.5

Pinched the ball with well-timed tackles and interceptions throughout the game. Looked nervous at the start but settled in reasonably well, though he couldn’t find his forwards with long passes. Should have done better to intercept or shut down the attacker and stop the second goal. His recovery work was solid.

Harry Souttar: 5

Struggled early but settled. Finally managed to get on the end of a corner, reminding us of his attacking threat, and was even sent forward in the dying minutes to try and make an impact. Was caught out of position once or twice and didn’t co-ordinate the defensive line well enough with Sainsbury.

Fran Karacic: 6

Karacic was one of Australia’s few settled players in the first half, passing well up the line and getting forward himself, though his crosses weren’t always fine. He took a poor shot from range in the first half. Defended stoutly and was in the wars all game, throwing his body about to block shots.

Socceroos concede after just 8 minutes! | 00:25

Jackson Irvine: 5.5

Swamped in the midfield and failed to take control. Broke up a number of Japan attacks but his passing was below par and he was guilty of giving up the ball. Bust his gut with box-to-box recovery runs in defence until the dying seconds.

Ajdin Hrustic: 6

Gave the ball away frequently in the first half, both with his passing and on the ball. For the second game in succession, Hrustic’s dead-ball crosses were poor, regularly failing to beat the first man. But it was the one set piece that really mattered when he starred, belting an unstoppable free kick into the goal after himself winning the free kick. His defensive work is so often underrated but was again commendable.

Aaron Mooy: 5

Struggled to combine with Aziz Behich in defence, being caught out in transition repeatedly. He looked confident in possession, but couldn’t make too much happen going forward despite a classy moment or two. Fizzed a second-half shot just wide. Figuring out how to use Mooy going forward will be a key topic of debate for Graham Arnold and his coaching staff – especially since he’s been so great off the bench.

Tom Rogic: 5.5

Showed fantastic moments on the ball, but mislaid passes nearly as often as he made them, and was yet another who struggled to maintain possession in the first half. He received the ball facing backwards often, and used his body well to shield the ball and get other players involved. Nearly scored with a vicious volley.

Martin Boyle: 6

Struggled to make an impact as marked him tightly, but was energetic and tried hard. Worked hard in defence and pressed well – which worked a little less well than in previous games due to Japan’s crisp passing game and movement. Only once in the game did he really get himself

free out wide in the final third, and that led to Australia’s only goal as he cut the ball back perfectly to the edge of the box.

Adam Taggart: 6

Without a goal in his last 12 games for club and country, but Taggart could hardly have come closer than his brilliantly-saved shot in the first half. With opportunities limited, he worked hard to press from the front, and was in fine touch – as his great first-time flick from a Karacic long throw to set up Rogic showed.

SUBSTITUTES

Awer Mabil: 4.5

Didn’t get much of the ball but took on defenders and always wanted to make something happen. Mabil ran hard in defence, but looked a little tired after his exertion’s last time out.

Mitch Duke: 5

Failed to have his usual impact in aerial duels but his first sprint to shut down the keeper was the trademark of his typical intensity and workrate.

James Jeggo: 5

Allowed Hrustic to get further forward as usual but couldn’t do much to staunch Japan’s attack.

Chris Ikonomidis and Rhyan Grant: N/A

Came on late and didn’t make a difference.

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