Japan have become the fourth country to book their ticket for the World Cup in Russia. They assured themselves of a spot at next summer’s tournament with a 2-0 win over Australia.
Thursday's 2-0 victory over the visiting Socceroos in Saitama clinched the top spot in Group B of Asian qualifying with one match to go - away to second-placed Saudi Arabia.
Takuma Osano scored late in the first half and Yosuke Ideguchi added a second in the 82nd minute to seal Japan's sixth-straight appearance at the World Cup.
Third-placed Australia will need a clear victory over Thailand in their final qualifier and hope Japan get a draw or a win in Jeddah to keep their hopes of qualifying alive, as the Saudis have a better goal difference than the Socceroos.
Japan are the third team to have clinched qualification for the World Cup finals, after Iran and Brazil. As hosts, Russia qualified automatically. The 32-team tournament is to be held from June 14 to July 15 next year.
pfd/mf (dpa, AFP)