Japan vs. Oman  3 - 0

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AFC World Cup qualifying wrap: Japan cruise past Oman

4 June 2012 02:47

Japan fired a warning shot to their rivals in Asian qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a 3-0 win over Oman on Sunday.

The hosts wasted little time, attacking frequently in the first 10 minutes and putting Oman under constant pressure.

With shots raining from all points the first goal was a matter of time, finally coming in the 12th minute when Yuto Nagatomo's cross was volleyed in by Keisuke Honda with his left foot.

With most of the first half's play taking place in the visitors' half, most of the pressure fell onto Oman goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who saved several great chances but was himself saved by the official's flag more than once before the half ended at 1-0.

Japan picked up where they left off after the half ended, pressing Oman hard before doubling their lead in the 51st minute after Kagawa skilfully faked a shot before passing to Ryoichi Maeda, who converted from close range.

The Jubilo Iwata veteran continued to demonstrate his mastery against Asian clubs, yet lagged in pace behind his Europe-based team-mates.

Just three minutes later, Shinji Okazaki capitalised on a defensive error to give Japan a 3-0 lead on a blistering shot. The goal came as a relief to the Stuttgart man after he failed to capitalise on multiple first-half opportunities.

It was only thanks to two last-minute saves by Al-Habsi against Honda and substitute Hiroshi Kiyotake that the Samurai Blue failed to expand their lead even further as they closed the match with a flurry of chances.

The victory in front of over 63,000 fans extended Japan's record under Alberto Zaccheroni to 13-6-2.

Also in Group B, Jordan played out a 1-1 draw with Iraq in Amman.

Nashat Akram put Iraq in front after just 14 minutes but Zico's side were unable to hang onto their lead, giving it away just two minutes before half-time.

Ahmad Hayel Ibrahim was the scorer as Jordan salvaged a point in front of their home fans.

In Group A, Iran upset Uzbekistan with a last-gasp 1-0 win in Tashkent.

Uzbekistan last lost a match at home in March 2010 against the United Arab Emirates.

But they were unable to score and Mohamad Khalatbari took advantage, netting the winner in the third minute of injury time.

The other match saw Qatar defeat Lebanon 1-0 in Beirut thanks to Sebastian Soria's second-half goal.

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Zaccheroni credits fans for Japan win

3 June 2012 17:22

Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni was jubilant on Sunday after they thrashed Oman 3-0 in FIFA World Cup qualifying.

The Samurai Blue opened their account for the final round of qualifying in the Asian region with a 12th-minute strike by Keisuke Honda, with second-half efforts by Ryoichi Maeda and Shinji Okazaki sealing the points.

"As the first match of the round it was an important victory and great for our morale," Zaccheroni told reporters.

"We were focused and I want to again thank the supporters who cheered us and motivated us throughout the game.

"I hope they'll all come to the (June 3) match against Jordan. With this kind of support we'll win again."

Honda, who returned to action in last week's Azerbaijan friendly after a nine-month post-surgical recovery period, also had plenty to smile about after his first international goal since August.

"I hadn't scored in a while so I was definitely looking for a goal," the 25-year-old said of his half-volley from Yuto Nagatomo's cross.

"I think we were able to relax after we scored so early.

"Now we have to prepare in order to win our next game as well."

Japan captain Makoto Hasebe praised his team-mates, and despite dominating possession, he felt that his squad could have done more.

"I'm very relieved. We did well by scoring early in both halves, but I think we could have scored two or three more goals," the Wolfsburg midfielder said.

"We're not yet at 100 per cent but now we have four days to get ready for the next match."