Sydney [Australia], March 24 (ANI): Japan secured their place in a seventh successive FIFA World Cup emerging from a crucial AFC Asian Qualifiers - clash against Australia with a 2-0 win on Thursday in Sydney.
A pair of late goals from substitute Kaoru Mitoma finally rewarded Japan on a night where they peppered the Australian goal, leaving the Socceroos in a precarious position in their own bid to reach Qatar 2022.
The result means Graham Arnold's side will enter the playoffs in June, with wins required over the third-placed side in Group A, as well as the fifth-placed South American side, if they are to qualify.
Driving rain greeted the players for the latest installment of one of Asian football's great modern rivalries, and it took Japan less than a minute to test Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan, who held a dangerous 15-yard effort from Takumi Minamino.
Several efforts went and passed but neither team managed to get a breakthrough.
With the game reaching a goalless draw, it was Australia who most needed to score, but Japan always looked more likely to, and their reward finally arrived in the 89th minute, with Miki Yamane supplying his former Kawasaki Frontale teammate Mitoma, who calmly beat Ryan from close range.
Mitoma's superb cameo continued when he added a second in stoppage time, slipping an effort under the palms of Ryan as Japan celebrated their sixth win in a row, and another trip to the top tier of world football. (ANI)