Morning Chronicle - Perfect Japan leave Syria on brink in World Cup qualifying

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Perfect Japan leave Syria on brink in World Cup qualifying
Perfect Japan leave Syria on brink in World Cup qualifying / Photo: Sai Aung MAIN - AFP

Perfect Japan leave Syria on brink in World Cup qualifying

Japan thrashed Syria 5-0 in Asian World Cup qualifying on Tuesday to complete the second round with a 100 percent record and leave their opponents in grave danger of elimination.

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Strikes from Ayase Ueda, Ritsu Doan and a Syria own goal in the first half put Japan in the driving seat in Hiroshima before Yuki Soma scored a penalty and Takumi Minamino notched a fifth late on.

The result meant Syria can only advance to the next round of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup if Myanmar beat North Korea later in the evening.

North Korea would go through at Syria's expense if they secured at least a draw against bottom-of-the-group Myanmar.

Japan have no such problems after finishing the round on maximum points and with 24 goals scored and none conceded.

Hajime Moriyasu's side clinched their place in the final phase without kicking a ball in March when FIFA said their away game against North Korea would not be rescheduled.

North Korea were supposed to stage the game in the capital Pyongyang but, five days beforehand, officials abruptly said the isolated country could not play host, without giving a reason.

Japan are looking to qualify for their eighth straight World Cup when the tournament takes place in the US, Canada and Mexico.

Playing in Hiroshima for the first time in 20 years, they wasted little time in giving the crowd something to cheer.

Keito Nakamura, who scored twice in Japan's 5-0 away win over Myanmar last week, dribbled down the left before crossing the ball in for Ueda to head home in the 13th minute.

Doan, who was also on target against Myanmar, made it two six minutes later when he cut inside before rifling home a left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

Japan scored again in the 21st minute when Takefusa Kubo caused panic in the Syria defence and forced an own goal from defender Thaer Krouma.

The goals dried up until Soma notched a fourth from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute after Abdul Rahman Weiss brought him down in the box.

Monaco forward Minamino curled home a fifth goal with five minutes remaining.