Japan defeat Jordan to top Asian Cup Group D, Iraq reach QF
Keisuke Honda scored in a third straight Asian Cup game as defending champions Japan weathered a determined Jordan 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals as winner of Group D on Tuesday night.
With their victory, four-time champions Japan emerged from the group stages with a perfect record of three back-to-back wins.
Iraq finished as group runners up after iconic striker Younus Mahmood and midfielder Ahmed Yaseen gave the 2007 winners a 2-0 victory over already-eliminated Palestine.
Japan will take on the United Arab Emirates in Sydney on Jan. 23 in the quarterfinal. Iraq will play their quarterfinal against West Asian neighbours Iran in Canberra on the same day.
The Japanese constantly stretched the Jordan defence, and inevitably broke through in the 24th minute when Honda coolly slotted home a rebound at the near post after a powerful shot by Shinji Okazaki was parried by Amer Shafi.
Honda, who drew a save from Shafi as early as the second minute, took six shots on goal for one reward.
Masato Morishige was carried from the field in the 40th minute after a nasty head clash with Jordan's Yousef Ahmad, who was, somewhat harshly, shown a yellow card. Morishige returned to the field minutes later.
Jordan opened the second half vastly more organised, and managed to put the Japanese on the back foot. But the Samurai Blue were unable to make the most of their chances as fatigue set in.
Shinji Kagawa put the win beyond doubt eight minutes from the end of regulation time when he met a long centering pass from Yoshinori Muto in front of goal and fired in.
After Iraq and Palestine went to half-time at 0-0 in Canberra, Mahmood broke the deadlock when he headed in Ali Adnan Kadhim's cross three minutes into the second half.
Yaseen sealed the win in the 88th minute when he gathered a Yaser Safa Kasim pass and found the net at the near post.