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Japan becomes 1st team to reach 2014 World Cup

Published June 4, 2013 8:46 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Saitama, Japan • Keisuke Honda made sure Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup by calmly converting a stoppage-time penalty kick Tuesday for a 1-1 draw against Australia.

Tommy Oar had given Australia a 1-0 lead in the 82nd minute with a lob over Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawasahima. But a handball by Matthew McKay in the last minute of regulation set up the penalty for Honda, who beat Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with a left-footed shot into the top of the net.

Japan needed at least a point to clinch a spot in next year's World Cup in Brazil from Group B in Asian qualifying.

"I have achieved one of the goals I was hired for," Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said. "But just qualifying is not enough. We have a very strong commitment to playing well so we will aim even higher in Brazil."

Honda had missed Japan's last two matches — both defeats — but was his team's best player on Tuesday.