Japan piles pressure on Socceroos
Japan took a stranglehold on its 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying group by beating Iraq 1-0 in Saitama on Tuesday night in increase its lead over Australia to eight points.
A headed goal from Jubilo Iwata striker Ryoichi Maeda in the 26th minute of the first half settled the Group B game.
Japan dominated the game possession wise with midfielders Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo standing out.
But Alberto Zaccheroni's team was largely ineffective and could not translate its territorial superiority into more goals and had to survive a few nervous moments late in the game to secure the points.
Iraq had arguably the better chances of a pulsating game played before a packed stadium.
Japan has 10 points from four matches and is now a clear favourite to qualify for the finals in Brazil in 2014.
Jordan and Australia, who have one point and two points respectively from two matches, were due to play in Amman early on Wednesday morning.
The first two in the group that also comprises Oman go through automatically to the finals.