One hardly knows what to expect from the game. Australia is certainly not known for being any good, but they raise them tough in the former penal colony. And as we saw in 2002, Japan is like a whole bunch of little wheels perpetually spinning. I enjoy their game, even if I don’t think it will ultimately prove that successful. That’s not to say it won’t work today, because I don’t think Australia is any great shakes. But against Brazil? Against Croatia? Well, maybe Croatia. They’re an aging side, and lots of energy might make a difference.

Early, Japan wastes a dangerous free kick and the linesman blows an offside call against Australia. Both are annoying. Japan winger mugged down the sideline. He’s gonna have a rough day unless he’s used to rough play.

Australia’s captain gets two shots in the 6th minute. Keeper does well to save. Corners should be a big advantage to the taller Socceroos.

Up and back we go in the 9th minute. Neither defense breaks. Good action. Lot of phantom calls by the ref, or perhaps more accurately calls that on the iffy side. Australia with a nice combination. Japan counters and gets a shot from the middle 35 yards out. Australia keeping Japan’s defense under heavy pressure. Good save on cross by keeper, but it’s hard to believe everything in front of him is going to bend but not break over the course of 90 minutes. Well, 75 minutes, now.

Japan just wide in the 21st minute. Very close. Good chance. Australia’s had the run of play, but maybe they’ve exhausted themselves in the early surge. Free kick Japan about 40 out. Nothing.

Great setup and chance wasted by poor finish in the 24th for Australia. They have a dude up top who holds fantastically well in traffic.

GOAL! Goal to Japan from the side about 35 out. Just bounces past everybody. Japanese player took out the keeper. Grievous foul. Ref completely missed it. Awful non-call. I thought the ref was weak early, now at 26 minutes it looks like I was right. Australia’s had the run of play and more chances. Hate to see them get hosed like that.

Australia gets a good chance on the counter. Just high.

Ref misses another call. Not a good thing. He’d have to do something really stupid to top the red card in the Trinidad game, but he’s on pace to be the worst of the Cup so far.

Free kick just to the side of the box in the 30th. See if the Socceroos can get something out this. Nope. Chip to low.

Yellow to Austrlan in the 33rd. Grella, a midfielder. Replay shows it was a dive. I’d like to tell the referee where to put that shiny new microphone.

Thirty-eight minutes in. Japan having trouble finding an attack. They try the wings and find nothing, over the top nothing. Fast counters seem to really be their bread-and-butter.

Free kick to Australia in the 40th. Good shot, just wide. 54-46 possession to Australia. Game still wide open, both it’s redeeming and defining characteristic. Let’s hope the ref doesn’t change that, because “bad officiating” is a close second for “defining” but it’s not redeeming.

And that’s halftime. 1-0 Japan on a lousy goal. Too bad, because the quality of play is actually pretty high. Dunno how much blogging second half, kids will be up.

First Aussie sub.

Japan player down. At least he’s not a faker. Subbede out.

Yellow to Moore for obstruction. lame.

Huge keeper error give Japan a chance. Can’t do anything with it.

Aussies out fouling Japan 17 to 8. Another Aussie sub.

Socceroos with a major opportunity 22 minutes into the second half. Just outside the box at the top. Good shot, great save.

70 minutes in. Back and forth we go. These will be two tired teams. Huge defensive error almost gives Australia a shot. Socceroos are all around the box, just can’t get one in. Maybe Japan’s defense will bend but not break.

Another chance goes a-begging in the 28th of the second half. Australia’s build-ups are good. They just have to finish. Last sub for the Socceroos coming in. Fifteen minutes left.

Japan blows a 2 v 1. Good defensive work.

Aussies mount one attack after another. No joy.

Yellow to Aloisi, an Assie, for being stupid and pushing in front of the ref. Even this ref got that one right.

Japan sub. Ono in. Oh no. =)

Nine minutes remaining. Aussie fans look despondent. Rightfully so. They’ve outplayed Japan, gotten hosed by a non-call, and if nothing changes, will lose to a country that tried to take over the Pacific Rim 60 years ago.

Dangerous free kick…good shot, great save again! GOAL to Australia! Big keeper error, leaves it open, and the defense couldn’t clear. Giant throw-in, defense blocks the first shot, but not the follow-up. Five minutes left.

Corner to Japan. Amounts to nothing. Ball didn’t cross the end line though, and what would have been the subsequent play would’ve been a PK.

Japan just wide in the 87th minute. Aussies lucky on that. Very makable shot.

GOAL to Australia off the post! In the 89th minute! Defense didn’t get there. Great shot, and well-earned given all the work they’ve done throughout the game.

GOAAL! Aussies in extra time. Aloisi completely breaks the defense, admittedly short-manned in the Japanese effort to get the equalizer. Doesn’t matter now.

That’s the game. 3-1 Aussies, in a good game except for some of the officiating.