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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 4, 2013

Japan first to qualify for finals

Japan became the first team to secure their place in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Japan became the first nation to book their place at next year's World Cup finals on Tuesday as Keisuke Honda's injury-time penalty secured a 1-1 draw with Australia.

• Duerden on rise of Japan

Alberto Zaccheroni's Japan have dominated the group and their berth in Brazil has been a formality for some time, but they knew at least a point in the home game against Australia in Saitama would confirm their presence.

Both teams wasted opportunities in an open encounter which sprang to life in the 81st minute when Australia took the lead. Tommy Oar's cross from the left took a slight deflection off a defender but that was enough to see the ball loop over goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and into the back of the net.

Japan pushed forward looking for the leveller and the visitors buckled right as the clock struck 90 minutes, with Matt McKay adjudged to have handled in the area. Honda calmly fired the resulting spot-kick straight down the middle of the goal and past the diving Mark Schwarzer to earn a draw and a ticket to Brazil.

Oman now lie second in Group B thanks to a 1-0 win over Iraq.

Abdul Salam Al Mukhaini scored the only goal for the home side before the half-time whistle.

Oman are five points shy of Japan but, more crucially, two ahead of Jordan and Australia in the battle for a top-two finish and automatic qualification for next summer's World Cup.

The Socceroos face Jordan in Melbourne next week in what is a must-win match for both nations. Iraq remain at the foot of the table, two points adrift of the pack.

South Korea moved to the top of Group A after Kim Chi-woo grabbed a 1-1 draw against Lebanon in the seventh minute of injury-time.

Lebanon looked set to grab a win to keep their campaign alive when they led deep into injury-time thanks to Hassam Maatouk's 12th-minute opener, but Kim's deflected free-kick broke home hearts with a red card to Walid Ismail moments later further souring the night.

South Korea moved ahead of Uzbekistan on goal difference with Iran a point further back after they beat Qatar 1-0 in Doha. Reza Ghoochannejhad scored the decisive goal on 66 minutes.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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