first_imgJapan booked their place in the 2018 World Cup with an emphatic 2-0 win over Australia in Saitama on Thursday that took their Asian arch-rivals’ hopes of qualifying for Russia out of their hands.Takuma Osano scored late in the first half before 21-year-old midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi covered himself in glory with a sumptuous finish in the 82nd minute as the Samurai Blue sealed a sixth straight appearance in the global showpiece. (Also Read: World Cup qualifiers: Marco Asensio, Andrea Belotti primed for starring roles in Spain-Italy showdown)Japan are now assured of finishing top of Group B in Asian qualifying before their final match away to second-placed Saudi Arabia, a match that Australia will watch nervously.Third-placed Australia will need a handsome victory over Thailand in their final qualifier and hope Japan can beat or draw with the Saudis, who have a better goal difference than the Socceroos. (Also Read: World Cup qualifiers: Spain, Italy lock horns to inch closer to direct qualification)Japan join Iran, Brazil and hosts Russia in the 32-team tournament, which will be held from June 14 to July 15 next year.last_img

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