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Takumi Minamino and Japan Qualify for World Cup

A 2-0 victory over Australia secures a place at the 2022 World Cup for the Samurai Blue.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – AFC Asian Qualifiers: Australia v Japan Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Two late goals by Kaoru Mitoma have secured a place at World Cup 2022 for Japan, as the Samurai Blue registered a 2-0 victory over Australia and booked their place in Qatar with one game to spare.

Liverpool forward Takumi Mianmino played a strong game but came out after 84 minutes—making way for Mitoma, who would go on to score in the 89th and 94th minute.

It moves Japan clear into first in their AFC qualification group with 21 points and nine of ten games played. Second place Saudi Arabia has 19 points, and third-place Australia has 15. With the top two automatically qualifying, it means Japan are safe.

Japan’s final match is against Vietnam, the last-place team in the group, while Australia play Saudi Arabia in their final match knowing that no result will allow them to catch the current second-place side.

For Australia, it’s not the end of the road as third in the group is secured, meaning a place in the fourth playoff round against the third-place team from Group A, likely to be the United Arab Emirates.

Of note, this is the first defeat in qualification suffered at home for the Socceroos since 1981, and a blow to a side that had believed itself a near lock to finish top two.