Japan have captured yet another win in AFC 2014 World Cup Qualifying, and now sit on 10 points after four matches. They were challenged at home by Iraq in an entertaining game with chances for both sides, but scored the only goal of the contest in their 1-0 victory.
The away side tested Eiji Kawashima multiple times early in the first half, but the Japan No. 1 came up with a couple of crucial early saves, and continued to play well throughout the match. Iraq were made to pay for not capitalizing on their opportunities in the 25th minute, when Ryoichi Maeda put them to the sword. Yūichi Komano set up the chance with a great through ball down the left flank for Keisuke Honda, who hit a perfect cross into the head of Maeda for an easy finish from inside the six-yard box.
Iraq goalkeeper Noor Sabri was brilliant in the second half and kept his team in the match until the very end, but Iraq was unable to find the back of the net to steal a point on the road.
Japan are only halfway done with the final stage of qualifying, but could lock up a berth in the World Cup as soon as the next international break, if they win their next match and things break their way in other matches.