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Okazaki powers Japan
Muscat, Nov 14, 2012, Reuters: 0:37 IST
Asian champs beat Oman 2-1 to inch closer to Brazil
Shinji Okazaki's late strike gave Japan a 2-1 away victory over Oman on Wednesday, leaving the Asian champions on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Oman looked to have salvaged a point in sweltering Muscat after Ahmed Mubarak's deflected free-kick 13 minutes from time cancelled out a first-half opener from Hiroshi Kiyotake.
But Okazaki pounced on a quick counter-attack in the 89th minute for runaway Group B leaders Japan, smashing home a clever flick from Yasuhito Endo from point-blank range.
Kiyotake, starting in place of the injured Shinji Kagawa, put Japan in front after 20 minutes when he drilled a low cross from Yuto Nagatomo past goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Oman were unlucky not to pull level in the 36th minute, Ismail Al Ajmi's header smacking against the post and rolling back across line before Nagatomo slid in to clear.
Japan, who now have 13 points from five matches, have appeared at every World Cup since first qualifying for the 1998 finals in France. Oman have five points from five games. Iraq win
A late goal by striker Hammadi Ahmed gave a youthful Iraq a vital 1-0 victory over Jordan on Wednesday, thrusting them back into contention for a place in Brazil.
Jordan had wasted a number of good chances to break the deadlock before Ahmed took advantage of the space afforded to him on the edge of the area to fire home a fierce 20-metre shot in the 86th minute.
The victory was Iraq's first in Group B of the fourth round of qualifying and moved them on to five points from five matches, one ahead of Jordan and level with second-placed Australia and Oman.
A stunning 30-metre strike by Qatar striker Sebastian Soria lit up a game of poor quality as the hosts edged past Lebanon 1-0 on Wednesday.
The Uruguayan-born forward produced the stunning, swerving shot in the 75th minute to give Qatar their first home win in Group A of Asian qualifying to leave them on seven points from five matches in the fourth round stage.
They are level at the top of the group with South Korea and Iran.