Japan began the third and final and final qualification stage for the 2018 World Cup with a shocking defeat against the UAE at the Saitama Stadium on Thursday
The host started brightly and took an early lead when AC Milan midfielder Keisuke Honda headed home from a freekick taken by Hiroshi Kiyotake on 11 minutes.
However, just nine minutes later, Ahmed Khalil equalized for the visitor with a brilliant freekick that goalkeeper Nishikawa Shusaku could only tip to the top corner.
Nine minutes after the break, the UAE scored their second goal. Ismail Al Hammadi drew a foul from former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa in the area, and Ahmed Khalil successfully converted the penalty.
UAE secures an unlikely victory against Samurai Blue (Credit: Dan Orlowitz)
Japan had chances to equalized but failed to do so in the remaining minutes. Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki struck the crossbar with a thumping header late in the match and Asano Takuma’s effort was incorrectly ruled out when the referee failed to see the ball had crossed the line before the UAE’s goalkeeper pawed it away.
Japan will face AFF Suzuki Cup reigning champions Thailand on 6th September, while the UAE will host Asian Cup champions Australia at home on the same day.