WC 2014: Japan first team to qualify, join hosts Brazil
Keisuke Honda fired Japan into the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday with a dramatic injury-time penalty which salvaged a 1-1 draw with Australia and made them the first team to qualify alongside hosts Brazil. Tommy Oar’s fortuitous late strike had looked set to condemn the hosts to an undeserved defeat.
But afterMatthew McKay handled in the box, Honda nervelessly drove his spot-kick straight down the middle to earn the necessary point.The result left the Asian champions seven points clear and uncatchable in Group B, putting them through to their fifth straight World Cup. It is the first time they have sealed qualification on home soil.
Holger Osieck’s Australia meanwhile will be glad of the point away from home as they scrap with Jordan, Oman and Iraq for the second automatic qualifying spot. The third-placed team will go into a play-off. Meanwhile Oman downed Iraq 1-0 on Tuesday to boost its chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Ismail al-Ajmi scored for Oman.