World Cup 2014: Japan first to qualify thanks to draw with Australia
Keisuke Honda scored a late penalty as Japan drew with Australia to become the first team to qualify for the World Cup.
Last Updated: 04/06/13 2:35pm
The home side needed just a point in Saitama to book a place in Brazil next summer but fell behind to a Tommy Oar goal eight minutes from time.
But Matt McKay's handball gave Honda the chance to secure safe passage from Asian qualifying Group B, and the CSKA Moscow midfielder duly delivered.
Such a nervy ending appeared unlikely early on as Japan set about Australia with real conviction, Yasuhito Endo twice going close and Shinji Kagawa forcing Mark Schwarzer into a one-handed save.
Australia responded, and it took Eiji Kawashima's alertness to deny Robbie Kruse one-on-one, but Japan again created the best of the chances after the break as Honda missed from two yards and Kagawa clipped the crossbar.
Oar punished home profligacy with a hint of fortune, as his cross-shot deceived Kawashima, but Honda had the final word.