(Highlights of all the goals from Japan’s 6-0 demolition of Jordan, a result which puts the Samurai Blue five points clear of the next-placed side in Group B)
A superb display from Japan resulted in a resounding 6-0 victory over Jordan in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Saitama Stadium, Keisuke Honda once more dominating the headlines with a hat-trick but Yasuhito Endo providing an exhibition of the array of passing at his disposal. The Samurai Blue head Group B at the end of Matchday Two following their first competitive win against their guests in normal time, and they could not have hoped for a better outcome as results elsewhere gave them a five point cushion in advance of their fixture against Australia on Tuesday.
In a match that Japan dominated for all but the opening five minutes of the second period, and in which Eiji Kawashima was not called upon until the 41st minute, even in the face of the final scoreline it would be no exaggeration to suggest that goalkeeper and captain Amer Shafia was one of the more able players in an otherwise desperately poor Jordan team. Shafia stood strong in the face of an opening barrage from the home side, a fine save preventing Shinji Okazaki from opening the scoring with a bicycle kick after five minutes following a sublime lofted pass from Makoto Hasebe, then punching clear a deliberate attempt at scoring direct from a corner by Endo, before diving at full-stretch to push a fierce Honda drive behind for a corner.
With minimal support offered to Shafia by his Al-Nashima teammates, however, and in particular the bewildering movement and passing fluency of Japan’s advanced players a level beyond Jordan’s defensive capabilities, resistance could only be sustained until the 18th minute. Honda swung over a corner from the right towards the back post, and rising above Saeed Murjan, Ryoichi Maeda encountered some good fortune as the ball deflected off his shoulder and into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Three minutes later Honda scored his first of the day, Endo delivering a stunning first-time angled ball into his path forty yards from goal having spotted the CSKA Moscow midfielder’s run, and he skipped across Anas Bani Yaseen before slotting calmly to the right of Shafia for Japan’s second.
Moments of ill-discipline were the least Jordan could afford in trying to cope with such an onslaught, but two bookings in as many minutes saw their numbers reduced to ten with only 27 minutes played. Abdallah Deeb had no cause for complaint, shown his first yellow card for pulling back the effervescent Maeda after nimble footwork had taken him past the midfielder, and then a raised arm across the face of Hasebe as they contested an aerial ball giving South Korean referee Kim Dong-Jin no choice other than to book Deeb for a second time and confirm the dismissal.
Jordan were in disarray, and it came as litttle surprise when goals three and four arrived before half-time. Endo, who combined superbly with Okazaki on a number of occasions, spotted the VfB Stuttgart player alone in space in the right channel, Basem Fat’hi having drifted in-field. Although the defender was able to recover to block Okazaki’s left-footed shot, the ball spun across the six yard box, and Honda was on hand to steer home having continued his run beyond Baha’ Abdul-Rahman at the back post.
Ten minutes before half-time Shinji Kagawa had his reward for his superlative efforts in closing down the Jordanian midfield and the pressing game for which he is renowned. Defending close to his own goalline, Kagawa challenged Ahmed Hayel to win a throw-in for his side. Advaning quickly downfield, Honda carved a ball out to the right-hand side which Hasebe did well to pull back across the face of goal. Although Maeda’s header was half-cleared to the edge of the penalty area via a Shafiah fist, Atsuto Uchida unselfishly rolled the ball across the 18 yard line for the Manchester United-bound forward to fire through the legs of the hapless Khalil Bani Attiah and into the bottom left corner.
As Dong-Jin signalled for the interval, the question was how many more would be added to the scoreline, the visitors not having recorded a single shot in the first 45 minutes, but Japan first had to withstand a spirited start to the second-half as Saeed Murjan, Hayel and Odai Al-Saify all gave some pause for concern and the home side played well within themselves. Nonetheless, any hopes Jordan may have had of making the scoreline more respectable were soon snuffed out, as Maeda’s skill drew a foul from Bani Attiah in the penalty area, and Honda stepped up to seal his hat-trick from the spot, Shafia diving the wrong way.
Substituted to rapturous applause shortly after, Honda took his place on the bench as Kengo Nakamura entered the fray, and Yasuyuki Konno was then withdrawn for Masahiko Inoha with a view to what should be Japan’s most difficult AFC Fourth Round qualification game next week. The Samurai Blue came close to adding to their total on several occasions, Endo once more trying to score directly from a corner, while first Yuzo Kurihara from a header and then Inoha with a low shot saw their efforts cleared off the goalline by Abdul-Rahman. Kagawa caught the outside of the right upright with an attempt from distance late on, and with time running out Kurihara finally put away the sixth, Yuto Nagatomo’s cross to the back post inviting the header from the substitute defender.
Any anxiety for Japan as they head to Brisbane will merely come in the form of centre-back Maya Yoshida, outstanding in partnership with Yasuyuki Konno and whose involvement in the match came to an early end having jarred his leg in a challenge with Abdul-Rahman. Early prognosis suggests damage to knee ligaments, and with Alberto Zaccheroni having confirmed he will play no part in the match against the Socceroos, he has flown back to Japan for treatment. Otherwise the Samurai Blue look in excellent shape and they should be confident of taking a point or more on 12 June, and then await the visit of Iraq in September perhaps already on the brink of qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
|Match Statistics||Match Statistics|
|Keisuke Honda||21, 30, 53 (pen.)|
Shadi Abu Hash’Hash
|Makoto Hasebe||72||Abdallah Deeb||25, 27|
|Khalil Bani Attiah||52|
|Sent Off||Min||Sent Off||Min|