TEHERAN • Ahmad Yaseen's second-half equaliser earned Iraq a 1-1 draw with Australia yesterday in Teheran and left the Socceroos with work to do to reach next year's World Cup Finals.
Matthew Leckie scored five minutes before half-time but Yaseen's 76th-minute finish condemned Australia to a fourth draw in six games in the final group stage of Asia qualifiers.
Australia have 10 points - three adrift of Group B leaders Saudi Arabia - after six games. Japan, on 10 points after five games, faced United Arab Emirates in last night's late match.
With only the top two teams gaining automatic spots to Russia 2018, Australia's home game against UAE on Tuesday takes on added significance.
At a rain-soaked PAS Stadium in the Iranian capital, the Socceroos lived on their wits in the opening half-hour with Amjad Kalaf squandering a hatful of close-range chances.
In the 40th minute, however, Aaron Mooy's corner from the left picked out the unmarked Leckie, who firmly headed home at the near post.
With 14 minutes remaining, Iraq equalised when Yaseen met Ali Adnan's perfect cross.
"We have to look what we can do better and how we can dominate opposition a little better than today," Australia goalkeeper Mitch Langerak told Fox Sports. "It's obviously two points lost for us."
Saudi Arabia picked up their fourth win yesterday when they beat Thailand 3-0 in Bangkok.
Forward Mohammad Al Sahlawi opened the scoring in the 25th minute before Tanaboon Kesarat put through his own net six minutes before time. Saudi midfielder Salman Almuwashar netted in stoppage time.
Kiatisuk Senamuang's men remain bottom of Group B, still searching for their first win.