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Japan Downed Australia to Grab Ticket to World Cup Russia

By September 4, 2017 at 1:00 am
Soccer

Japan won the crucial Game 9 of the final elimination in Asia against Australia, August 31, 2-0 to clinch entry in the Soccer World Cup in Russia next year.

The Saitama Stadium was jam-packed tonight with anxious supporters behind the Samurai Japan in its bid for entry in the World Cup - sixth time for six consecutive years.

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Japan stood atop Group B after eight contests and was after a victory in Game 9 to grab the ticket to Russia. Manager Halilhodzic chose to hold Honda, Kagawa and other veterans on the bench and took chances with young hopefuls like Takuma Asano, 22, and Yosuke Ideguchi, 21, etc.

In the first half of the game, Japan dominated the pitch and at 41 minutes Asano volleyed a cross ball fed from Yuya Nagatomo for a score to finish the half 1-0.

Australia turned aggressive in the second half in a desperate attempt to even up the game but the center back Maya Yoshida organized the defense to check the Australians scoreless. At 37 minutes, Genki Haraguchi fed a timely pass to Ideguchi, who dribbled his way through the Australian defenders to drive a middle shoot in for another score.

Samurai Japan kept the 2-0 lead through the game to beat the Australians for the first time in eight games in final elimination in Asia for the World Cup.

With 20 games won with one more to go, Japan has thus clinched the first place in Group B and entry in the World Cup in Russia next year. Japan plays in the World Cup for 6 times in a row since 1998  in France.

Manager Halilhodzic lauded after the game:

"Thank you all. I say the whole of Japan joined to win this world cup. Some injuries and risky errors were there, but we've managed to win the game.

"My boys have won this crucial game and I'm grateful for that. But they are about to face a fresh challenge with the world cup ahead. We'll do our utmost." (Nathan Shiga)

Source: NHK

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