Japan thump Afghanistan while Korea edge Lebanon

Shinji Okazaki celebrates after putting Japan ahead Source: AAP

Japan all but secured their ticket for the third round of AFC World Cup qualifying with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Afghanistan in Saitama to ensure they remain top of Group E but it was a tougher outing for Korea Republic against Lebanon.

Head coach Vahid Halilhodzic opted to rest Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda ahead of next week's crucial game against second-placed Syria, but the hosts were too strong for Afghanistan even without their star men.

Shinji Okazaki opened the scoring for Japan in the 43rd minute with a fine individual goal, before Hiroshi Kiyotake added a second shortly before the hour mark to effectively end the match as a contest.

An own goal from Sharif Muhammad then made it three, with Maya Yoshida and Mu Kanazaki piling even more misery on Afghanistan in the closing stages.

Rampant Japan have now won six of their seven group matches - drawing the other - without conceding a goal.

Japan dominated proceedings from the start and had a number of chances to open the scoring early on. Kanazaki curled over from the edge of the box, before Genki Haraguchi saw his fine long-range strike hit the crossbar.

Kanazaki should have opened the scoring when he found himself one-on-one with Ovays Azizi midway through the first half, but the Kashima Antlers attacker failed to beat the Afghanistan goalkeeper from close range.

Okazaki eventually did give Japan the lead with two minutes left the first half. The Leicester City striker shrugged off his direct opponent with a sublime first touch after being played in on the edge of the area, nutmegged Modjieb Jamali and coolly placed his finish past Azizi.

The home side doubled their lead in the 58th minute after a quick attack through the middle. Kanazaki set up Kiyotake with a clever flick and the Hannover midfielder found the net with a casual finish.

Things got even worse for the visitors five minutes later when Muhammad deflected Hiroki Sakai's cross from the right past his own shot stopper.

Yoshida added a fourth on 74 minutes when he headed home a corner from the left, with Kanazaki also adding his name to the score-sheet four minutes later after being set up by Mike Havenaar.

Japan did not convert a number of chances to net a sixth goal that would have equalled their result from the away game against Afghanistan in September as they smoothly negotiated another step on the road to Russia.

Korea Republic kept their 100 per cent record in the second round of AFC World Cup qualifying alive as they snatched a 1-0 win over Lebanon in Ansan.

Substitute Lee Jeong-hyeop struck in the 93rd minute to break Lebanese hearts and give Uli Stielike something to celebrate on the sidelines.

The home side had already secured their place in the third round, having won all six Group G matches without conceding a goal and they rarely moved out of second gear against a side anxious to avoid defeat in order to keep their own campaign alive.

Korea Republic controlled possession without making any real inroads in the Lebanon defence during a flat first half, with Hwang Ui-jo coming closest to opening the scoring with a well-struck volley.

Kim Kee-hee's header early in the second period was well saved by the impressive Mehdi Khalil and Hwang was denied by a block with the goal gaping.

The game looked destined to finish goalless until Lee struck with almost the last kick of the match to give Korea Republic the win and leave Lebanon behind Kuwait in the Group G table.

Lebanon were happy to sit deep, but the methodical approach from Stielike's much-changed side had offered little threat in the first 45 minutes.

Their best chance came moments before the break when Jang Hyun-soo turned a corner back across goal and Hwang flashed a volley goalwards from just inside the area, only for Khalil to react superbly to keep the ball out.

Kee-hee planted a firm header towards the corner just after half-time but Khali sprung to his left to parry as Korea Republic tried to pick up the tempo to force a breakthrough, though Lebanon twice threatened on the counter-attack as first Hassan Maatouk dragged a low shot wide before Mohamed Zein Tahan shot past the far post when through on goal.

Korea Republic continued to push late on and their pressure finally told in injury-time. Ki Sung-yueng burst down the left before cutting the ball back to Lee, who side-footed past the despairing Khalil to send the home fans into raptures.

Jordan thrashed Bangladesh 8-0 in their first match under new coach Harry Redknapp.

The former Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers and Portsmouth manager accepted an offer to take charge of the team from Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, president of the Jordan Football Association, for the two final Group B qualifiers, with a view to reaching round three of the Asian Football Confederation section.

Al-Kuwait forward Hamza Al-Dardour netted a first-half hat-trick as the home side ran out comfortable winners at the Amman International Stadium.

Jordan went into the match second in Group B, two points behind Australia, and next face the Socceroos in Sydney on Tuesday as they look to secure a place among the 12 teams qualifying for the next stage.

AFC World Cup qualifying results

Group A
United Arab Emirates 2-0 Palestine
Saudi Arabia 2-0 Malaysia

Group B
Australia 7-0 Tajikistan
Jordan 8-0 Bangladesh

Group C
China 4-0 Maldives
Qatar 2-0 Hong Kong

Group D
Iran 4-0 India
Oman 1-0 Guam

Group E
Japan 5-0 Afghanistan
Syria 6-0 Cambodia

Group F
Vietnam 4-1 Chinese Taipei
Iraq 2-2 Thailand

Group G
Korea Republic 1-0 Lebanon

Group H
Uzbekistan 1-0 Philippines
Bahrain 3-0 Yemen

Source Omnisport, PA Sport