Uzbekistan and Japan draw 1-1 in WCup qualifier
Shinji Okazaki scored a second-half equalizer to secure a 1-1 draw for Japan against Uzbekistan in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
Bahodir Nasimov headed the ball on for Server Djeparov to fire past Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima from 10 yards (meters) out after eight minutes.
Okazaki equalized with a diving header in the 64th from Atsuto Uchida's pinpoint cross.
The result leaves both teams on four points in Asian qualifying Group C, and extends Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni's unbeaten record to 15 matches since taking over last year.
Uzbekistan controlled the pace for most of the match, as Asian Cup champion Japan struggled against much lower-ranked opponents.
Japan was again without standout midfielder Keisuke Honda, who was unable to play because of a right knee injury he picked up playing for CSKA Moscow on Aug. 28.
After Djeparov opened the scoring, Uzbekistan nearly doubled its advantage in the 16th minute through a Victor Karpenko lob that Kawashima only just managed to tip away.
Japan came close to equalizing when Tadanari Lee's left-foot strike hit the post in the first half.
Okazaki made no mistake in the 64th and Japan almost stole a winner in the 72nd but Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov made a good save from Shinji Kagawa.
Japan's next qualifier will be against Tajikistan in Osaka on Oct. 11, while Uzbekistan travels to Pyongyang to take on North Korea the same day.