Japan, Iran win in World Cup qualifying

Ryoichi Maeda and Shinji Okazaki scored second-half goals on

Sunday as Japan started its final round of 2014 World Cup

qualifiers with a 3-0 win over Oman.

Iran stunned Uzbekistan 1-0 with a goal in the final seconds of

stoppage time. Qatar won at Lebanon 1-0. Jordan held Iraq to a 1-1


Maeda gave Japan a 2-0 lead in the 52nd minute of the Group B

match at Saitama when he took a pass from Shinji Kagawa, broke to

his left and slid the ball under the outstretched arms of

goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

Okazaki put the result beyond doubt just three minutes later,

gathering his own rebound and beating Al Habsi from close


The top two teams in both of the five-team qualifying groups

will secure an automatic spot at Brazil. The third place teams

advance to a playoff.

In Tashkent, Mohammad Reza Khalatbari scored in stoppage time to

give Iran the win at Uzbekistan. Substitute Karim Ansarifard broke

down the right wing before passing to Khalatbari, who found the net

in the fourth minute of added time.

Iran was lucky to win the Group A match, given Uzbekistan had

the better chances for most of the match and looked to have scored

in the 74th minute.

Uzbekistan captain Odil Ahmedov knocked the ball into the net,

but Iran defender Jalal Hosseini, who was inside the goal mouth,

managed to clear it away. TV replays showed the ball had clearly

crossed the line, but the referees did not award a goal and play


In the other Group B match, Iraq midfielder Nashat Akram opened

the scoring in the 14th minute with a solo effort from outside the

penalty area. Jordan striker Ahmad Hayel Ibrahim took advantage of

some poor goalkeeping to level in the 43rd minute.

The result at Amman was a setback for Iraq, which is aiming to

qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. With

Brazilian Zico at the helm, Iraq had impressed recently with five

wins despite being required to play two of its home matches on

neutral turf.

At Beirut, Uruguayan-born striker Sebastian Soria scored in the

63rd minute in the Group A match, taking advantage of a poor pass

from Ramez Dayoub and then sidestepping keeper Ziad El-Samad for

the easy tap in. Lebanon pressed for the equalizer to no avail.

Qatar, set to host the 2022 World Cup, has never played in a

World Cup.