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Japan qualify for 2014 World Cup


SAITAMA — Asian champions Japan became the first side to qualify for the World Cup football finals in Brazil when playmaker Keisuke Honda scored an injury-time penalty to claim a 1-1 draw with Australia in Saitama on Tuesday.


The Blue Samurai dominated for long spells but Australia hung on and Tommy Oar put them in front in the 81st minute when his cross from the left looped over Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who flapped and failed to clear.

Matt McKay was then adjudged to have handled a cross from Honda in the penalty area in stoppage time and the bleach blond CSKA Moscow attacker stepped up to leather the spot kick straight down the middle.

The point leaves leaders Japan on 14 points from seven matches in Asian qualifying Group B, meaning they are assured of reaching the 2014 finals as one of the top two.

Japan lie seven ahead of Australia who moved above Jordan on goal difference with both sides having played a game less. Oman (six points from six games) host Iraq (five from five games) later yesterday.

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