A stoppage-time penalty to Keisuke Honda in Saitama has seen Japan break Australian hearts and give the home side safe passage to Brazil 2014.
A stoppage-time penalty from Keisuke Honda has denied Australia victory in Japan as the teams played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Saitama on Tuesday night.
Tommy Oar's fortunate goal in the 82nd minute, his first at international level, appeared set to give the Socceroos a stunning three points in the World Cup qualifier.
But Honda struck from the penalty spot in the first minute of additional time after Matt McKay handled his cross in the area.
It was a deserved point for Japan, who have qualified for Brazil 2014, while Australia are still well-placed in Group B ahead of home games against Jordan and Iraq in the next two weeks.
Holger Osieck sprung few surprises with his starting line-up, which was surprisingly attacking and included Mark Milligan, Mark Bresciano, Oar and Robbie Kruse.
Honda started for the hosts despite being under an injury cloud, but it was one of his midfield partners who had the first sight on goal in the sixth minute.
Veteran Yasuhito Endo curled a 30-yard free-kick just wide, but Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer appeared to have the effort covered.
The Socceroos were fortunate to escape unpunished twice in a matter of minutes.
Maya Yoshida missed a glorious chance as he failed to get enough on a free header from a Honda corner before Endo blazed over from range on 16 minutes.
The chances continued to come and Australia's first opportunity fell to Brett Holman, who hit an effort wide after being set up by Tim Cahill.
Australia were living dangerously and had Schwarzer to thank for being on level terms after 19 minutes.
Brilliant interplay just outside the area led to a chance for Shinji Kagawa, but the Manchester United attacker scuffed his shot and Schwarzer produced a superb one-handed save.
Surviving that led to a more composed Australian outfit, who dictated the tempo and were able to keep possession for longer periods in the middle part of the half.
And the chances followed, with Kruse denied by a stunning Eiji Kawashima save in the 34th minute.
Holman fed a wonderfully weighted through ball to Kruse, whose effort was saved by Kawashima in a one-on-one and Cahill put the rebound well over.
Osieck's men looked to slow down the contest heading into half-time and Japan were mostly unthreatening.
Japan controlled possession after the interval and Honda and Kagawa looked dangerous.
Kagawa was unlucky not to break the deadlock just before the hour-mark when his chip from the side of the area clipped the crossbar with Schwarzer beaten.
Honda had two free-kicks from similar spots just outside the area, but one went over and the other straight at Schwarzer.
Japan dominated the half but Australia created a glorious chance with a quarter of an hour to play.
Bresciano released Luke Wilkshire down the right and his cross found Cahill, whose shot was blocked by Yoshida.
Schwarzer denied Yuto Nagatomo before the Socceroos scored against the run of play on 82 minutes.
Oar continued to run at defenders and his cross-cum-shot floated in at the back post as Kawashima flapped at the effort.
That looked to be enough before McKay moved his body towards a Honda cross, which hit the left-back's arm.
Schwarzer looked unbeatable but Honda's penalty was powerfully struck down the middle, seeing the teams secure a point each.
Japan 1 (Honda 91p) Australia 1 (Oar 82)
Crowd: 62,172 @Saitama Stadium