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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Sports

FIFA World Cup
Brasil 2014

Japan leave it late

Shinji Okazaki scored a late winner as Asian champions Japan edged Oman 2-1 to zero in on a berth at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on Wednesday.

Oman had not lost at home in the final round of qualifiers and Ahmed Mubarak's 77th-minute free kick looked like preserving their unbeaten streak, after Hiroshi Kiyotake's first goal for Japan had put the visitors in front after 20 minutes.

But Okazaki had the last word when he scored from close range after a break down the left, putting Alberto Zaccheroni's men provisionally eight points clear at the top of Group B with three games to play.

Stuttgart's Okazaki, who missed Japan's recent friendlies against France and Brazil, saw a couple of half-chances saved by Oman's Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi at the other end, before Kiyotake broke the deadlock.

Oman failed to properly deal with Yuto Nagatomo's cross from the left and Nuremburg midfielder Kiyotake seized on the loose ball to slot home from close range.

Kiyotake and Sakai both had chances to extend Japan's lead as the pace slowed, but with 13 minutes remaining, Mubarak squeezed in a low free kick which sent the home fans into a frenzy.

However as Oman pressed for the winner, substitute Gotoku Sakai raced free on the left flank and his cross was flicked on at the near post by Yasuhito Endo, leaving the arriving Okazaki with the simplest of finishes.

Japan resume their qualifying campaign away to Jordan on March 26, when Oman are away to Australia.

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