Japan loses to Jordan in World Cup qualifying
Jordan stunned Japan 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday, denying the Asian power the chance to become the first team secure a berth in Brazil.
Khalil Baniateyah headed home the opening goal from a corner just before halftime. After the break, Japan pressed for the equalizer that would have been enough for it to qualify for the World Cup after Australia drew 2-2 with Oman. But Jordan doubled its lead in the 60th when Ahmad Hayel Ibrahim grabbed a loose ball near midfield, darted past two defenders and chipped it past a sprawling Eiji Kawashima who seemed caught off guard by his zigzag run down the field.
Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa pulled one back for Japan eight minutes later, taking a nifty backheel pass from Hiroshi Kiyotake and firing it past the keeper. Japan then seemed to be on the verge of the draw in needed when Atsuto Uchida earned a penalty three minutes later after he collided with a defender in the area.
But Yasuhito Endo had his spot kick saved by Jordan keeper Amer Sabah.
Japan, which remains six points clear of second-place Jordan, will have to wait until June for another chance to clinch a spot in Brazil when it plays Iraq. The win for Jordan is bad news for Australia, which is a point further back in third, with the top two teams earning automatic qualifying spots.
"We had a mission and we succeeded,'' said Jordan's Coach Adnan Hamad, whose team was humbled 6-0 by Japan earlier in qualifying.
"It was a high-level match from both teams and we did our best and managed to play against one of the best teams,'' he said. "Amer Shafee saved us from a very hard position and the team's spirit was really at its best. I thank everyone for this win.''
Japan's coach Alberto Zaccheroni credited Jordan with a strong performance but acknowledged that Japan should have done better with its chances, especially in the early part of the second half when it dominated possession.
"It is too bad we lost a penalty but it happens,'' he said. "We had several chances to score but without success. We lost a chance to qualify early but still it was a good match.''