Japan continues Asian Cup wins

Jan 20, 2015 - 11:43 AM Japan has secured top place in their Asian Cup group and a quarter-final date with United Arab Emirates by defeating Jordan 2-0.

At a sold-out AAMI Park on Tuesday night, Japan made short work of their qualification, scoring first through Keisuke Honda.

A second-half finish from Shinji Kagawa made the game safe and kept Japan on track for a semi-final date with Australia - while sending Jordan home.

Japan were imperious in the first half, owning possession as they gracefully moved around the field.

Their 4-1-4-1 formation allowed dangerous attackers Takashi Inui, Yasuhito Endo, Kagawa and Honda to roam behind front man Shinji Okazaki.

They combined to deadly effect on 24 minutes.

The bright Inui released Okazaki, whose shot was palmed away by Amer Shafi into the path of Honda, who stroked home at the back post.

Shafi, the Jordanian captain, impressed until the second goal.

Substitute Yoshinori Muto drove the ball down the left wing, delivering a pinpoint cross for Kagawa to finish.

The Borussia Dortmund man connected sweetly but straight at Shafi, who could only palm the ball into the net.

Both before and after Honda's opener, Japan's lack of urgency suggested a team playing well within their capabilities.

The half-time introduction of Monther Abu Amara and Ahmad Hayel, who missed Jordan's 5-1 win over Palestine after a bungled drug test, sparked the 93rd ranked side.

Abu Amara was particularly lively on the right flank, willing his team forward.

But Japan adjusted for their opponents' new found enthusiasm and resumed normal transmission.

The scoreline could have been wider - Japan had two goals ruled out for marginal calls, with both central defenders coming close from set-pieces.

Honda also added to his growing collection of woodwork strikes on 90 minutes with the keeper well beaten.

But both coach Javier Aguirre and the largely blue-clad crowd of 25,016 could be content with two goals from their superstars, a clean sheet and the continuation of their 100 per cent record in Australia.

Aguirre was pleased with an unblemished defensive record for the third straight match.

"This was a game with intensity and fight ... the opponent requested our best play," he said through a translator.

"The team has defended very well in this tournament, and the defending was not only from the defenders.

"Difficult games are waiting for us but we hope to continue with zero goals against."

As his side exited the tournament, Jordan coach Ray Wilkins said there was a "gulf in class" between the two teams.

"I'm obviously naturally very disappointed to be heading back to Jordan tomorrow," he said.

"It's going to take a very, very good team to beat (Japan)."

Source: AAP

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