Asano, Ideguchi on target as Japan book World Cup ticket
01 Sep 2017 - 2:03
Saitama: Takuma Asano and Yosuke Ideguchi were on target as Japan beat Australia 2-0 at home yesterday to qualify for their sixth successive World Cup.
Asano steered home a left-foot volley four minutes before half-time and Ideguchi sealed the victory with a stunning long-range strike after 82 minutes as Japan became the fourth team to reach next year’s finals in Russia.
Despite euphoric celebrations, Japan’s under-fire coach Vahid Halilhodzic -- who reports suggested was facing the axe if the Blue Samurai lost -- revealed he had considered stepping down before the game for personal reasons.
A Japan Football Association officials later clarified that it was a “family matter” and confirmed Halilhodzic was expected to travel to Saudi Arabia for their final group game on Tuesday.
The Asian Cup holders get a second bite at the cherry at home to Thailand in their last game on Tuesday when they need to better Saudi Arabia’s result against Japan in Jeddah.
Japan survived a scare after 38 minutes in Saitama when a Mathew Leckie shot deflected off Maya Yoshida against post, before Asano struck a psychological blow shortly before the break.
Yuto Nagatomo whipped in a cross from the left and Asano ghosted in to beat goalkeeper Mat Ryan from close range.
Australia threw on veteran Tim Cahill after 70 minutes to try and inject some spark and his industry almost brought an equaliser for fellow substitute Tomi Juric in a goal-mouth scramble.
But Japan effectively ended Aussie hopes of salvaging a point when Ideguchi cut inside to slam a dipping right-foot shot past Ryan from distance for his first international goal.