Socceroos' World Cup door now open after UAE's wondergoals against Saudi Arabia

Socceroos' World Cup door now open after UAE's wondergoals against Saudi Arabia

Socceroos' World Cup door now open after UAE's wondergoals against Saudi Arabia

Updated 30 August 2017, 8:25 AEST

Two absolutely spectacular goals sees UAE shock Saudi Arabia 2-1, meaning the Socceroos can qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup outright if they beat Japan on Thursday night.

Take a bow, United Arab Emirates.

In a shock that opens up all sorts of possibilities in the Socceroos' World Cup qualifying AFC Group B, the UAE have stunned Saudi Arabia 2-1 to give Australia a huge boost in its hopes to reach the showpiece event in Russia.

Australia, playing old rival Japan, can qualify for Russia 2018 with a game to play if it beats the Blue Samurai in Saitama on Thursday night.

The heavily fancied Saudis — level on points with Australia but with a better goal difference — went ahead through Nawaf al Abed's 20th-minute penalty.

But the game turned when Ali Mabkhout showed an incredible first touch to pluck a cross from out of the air with a high boot, kill it dead before slotting home to level the scores.

The winner was even more eye-catching.

Ahmed Khalil went for the spectacular, turning his man emphatically before smashing home a belting goal from long range.

The win keeps UAE's slim hopes of nabbing third place in Group B alive, which would pit it against Group A's third-placed team before the winner takes on North America's fourth-placed finisher.

A draw for Australia would also strengthen Australia's qualifying hopes, leaving Japan and the Socceroos on 18 and 17 points respectively with a game to play, ahead of Saudi Arabia on 16.

Australia would then need to beat bottom-placed Thailand in Melbourne next month, while Japan and the Saudis battle it out for the final outright qualifying spot.

A win for Japan over Saudi Arabia would then keep UAE in with a slim hope of matching the Saudis' points haul of 16, with goal difference becoming the deciding factor in who finishes third.