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
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