x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

World Cup 2014 qualifying: Japan cannot punch ticket for Brazil just yet

Jordan pulls 2-1 upset over Japan, Australia needs late goal for draw with Oman while South Korea and Uzbekistan collect wins in World Cup qualifying matches.

Jordan's Khalil Bani Ateyah celebrates after scoring the first goal in a 2-1 win over Japan in a World Cup Group B Asian qualifier on Tuesday. Khalil Mazraawi / AFP
Jordan's Khalil Bani Ateyah celebrates after scoring the first goal in a 2-1 win over Japan in a World Cup Group B Asian qualifier on Tuesday. Khalil Mazraawi / AFP

Japan wasted a second-half penalty as they blew the chance to become the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup when they were humbled 2-1 by Jordan in a pulsating clash in Amman.

Japan dominated possession and created numerous chances but the West Asians secured a memorable win thanks to goals in each half by Khalil Bani Ateyah and Ahmad Ibrahim.

Shinji Kagawa pulled one back in the 69th minute and Japan could have grabbed the point they needed to qualify but midfielder Yasuhito Endo had his 71st-minute spot kick saved as Jordan leapfrogged into second place in Group B, six points behind their opponents.

In the group's other match, Oman showed their rapid improvement on the international stage by holding Asian heavyweights Australia to a 2-2 draw in Sydney which keeps the Arabian Gulf side keep in contention for a place at Brazil 2014.

An 85th-minute equaliser from Aston Villa's Brett Holman helped Australia earn a draw, leaving both teams on six points in Group A.

Holman's 25-yard strike capped a remarkable rally, after Australia had fallen 2-0 behind to Omani forward Abdul Mubarak's early strike and an own goal by Mile Jedinak just after half time.

Tim Cahill again proved to be Australia's talisman with a powerful headed goal in the 51st minute to keep the hosts in the contest, but a string of fine saves by Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi in the Oman goal kept the Socceroos from finding the winner.

Oman coach Paul Le Guen said his team proved they were becoming more competitive against the stronger regional rivals.

"I think we are improving step by step," Le Guen said.

"When you compare the game we play here compared to 18 months ago, we are better.

"I think we deserved the draw today. I knew we were close to the big teams than we were before but each free kick, each corner, we were in trouble.".

Australia were stunned in the sixth minute when Mubarak found space behind Michael Thwaite and cleverly slid the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from a tight angle.

The early goal set the tone for the first half, with the 105th-ranked Oman defending deeply, denying Australia space and time in attack.The Australians struggled for creativity and took 37 minutes to register a shot on target.

"It was definitely not what we expected," Socceroos manager Holger Oseick said. "We had different hopes according to that game but unfortunately the first half was not according to plan and we almost had to pay dearly for that."

Oseick said Oman played the way he'd expected and the Australians didn't seize any momentum.

"We didn't breakthrough, we always passed backwards, we delayed our game, there was no penetration, there was no quick ball up into the center and we basically played into their cards," he said. "That was the reason why we didn't do well in the first half."

Cahill's strike, straight after Oman had gone 2-0 at the start of the second half, was his 27th international goal and he now sits two goals behind Damien Mori as Australia's highest goalscorer.

"It's hard to compete with him," Le Guen said. "He is one of the best players in the world in the air."

With time ticking away, Holman attempted a low drive from distance which escaped Al Habsi's desperate dive and hit the bottom corner of the net for the equaliser.

"For us it's disappointing. We had a game plan, we didn't stick to it, we didn't move the ball quick enough in the first half and at the end of the day this is what could make the difference between qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil," Cahill said.

"They didn't surprise us. We surprised ourselves. We are a lot better than that and we were trying to make the killer ball all the time, we've got to play football.

"They are coming here to waste time and ruin the game and overall we've got to look at ourselves instead of what they did."

Australia's next game is away to group leaders Japan in June, with Oman set to host Iraq.

Qatar coach Fahad Thani questioned the amount of injury time allowed by the Japanese referee as South Korea scored in the 96th minute to win their qualifier in Seoul 2-1.

“There were five minutes of extra time but they gave six and it was a mistake,” said Thani. “We showed enough ability and talent to take us through qualification and to the World Cup ... but you never know what the result will be in football.”

Son Heung-min netted the winner which puts the Koreans three points clear of both Qatar and Iran, in second place in Group A.

Uzbekistan are top after a single goal from two-time Asian Footballer of the Year Server Djeparov saw off Lebanon in Taskhent

South Korea’s third win in five games kept them in contention to win Group A with three games to go.

Lee Keun-ho, the 2012 Asian Player of the Year, headed in the first goal on the hour but Khalfan Ibrahim equalised for Qatar with a low shot from the edge of the area three minutes later.

Korea were rewarded with virtually the last kick of the game as Son, who has nine goals for Hamburg in the German Bundesliga this season, tapped home from close range.

“The goal was set on a plate for me by Lee Dong-guk,” Son said. “All I had to do was finish ... but it was great to get such an important goal.”


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