Socceroos keep the faith with Japan draw
The Socceroos scored a moral victory in Japan. At the moment any sort of victory will do.
But how close they were to the real thing.
A last-minute penalty denied them one of their most famous triumphs, away from home in a throbbing World Cup qualifier against the best team in Asia.
Only Matt McKay, who had performed outstandingly well, will know why he dropped a shoulder to block a relatively innocuous cross with his arm in the 90th minute, giving away an indisputable penalty which robbed Australia of a moment destined for the archives.
But the Australians should fly home from Japan with heads held high for a change after what had been a stuttering and at times insipid World Cup qualifying campaign.
This was the greatest night of their whole Brazil 2014 shebang.
No matter how tantalisingly close they were to a win which might have all but booked their tickets to the big one, they must walk away satisfied with a point.
Tommy Oar's goal, a sliced left-foot cross that defied physics to scrape under the crossbar, possibly with the help of a deflection, was just about as flukey as the one Argentina scored to ruin Australia's World Cup campaign in Sydney a couple of decades ago.
The Socceroos were outplayed in Saitama on Tuesday night by a top class team led by top class players like Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa which has turned the tables on the golden Socceroos of 2006.
A 1-1 draw was an honourable result in a land where honour is everything.
But moral victories are no longer enough.
Over the next two Tuesdays, against Jordan in Melbourne and Iraq in Sydney, the Socceroos must deliver real victories, the ones that get you through to the finals. Ugly or beautiful, who cares?
This result in Japan at least ensures the outcome is in their hands.
Two home wins will do the trick.
So far they have managed only one win in six matches in this group. It has not been good enough.
But for the first time they have given their supporters faith.
And faith can move mountains, just like the one that supports the iconic statue of Christ overlooking Rio.