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Sunday, June 3, 2012
ESPNsoccernet: June 4, 12:40 PM UK
Winning start for Japan

ESPN staff

Japan got off to a winning start in their bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup with a 3-0 victory over Oman in Saitama.

• Duerden: Blue Samurai look sharpest

Alberto Zaccheroni's Japan have reached the last four World Cup finals but their coach warned on Saturday that they should not expect qualification to be a formality.

The Blue Samurai got off to a good start on Sunday, Keisuke Honda putting them ahead after 12 minutes.

Two goals in three second-half minutes from Ryoichi Maeda and Shinji Okazaki completed the scoring in the Group B clash.

Japan now host Jordan on Friday before travelling to Brisbane where they face a tough match against Australia on June 12.

The other game in the group saw Jordan and Iraq share a 1-1 draw.

A trademark long-range strike from Nashat Akram gave the visitors the lead in the 14th minute but Jordan equalised two minutes before half-time when keeper Mohammed Kassid fumbled Baha Suleiman's long-range shot into the path of Ahmad Ibrahim, who finished from close range.

In Group A, Iran produced a late sucker punch to snatch an ill-deserved 1-0 win in Uzbekistan.

The hosts dominated the game but failed to take their chances and Mohammad Khalatbari rounded off a 94th-minute counter-attack with a calm finish to rub salt in their wounds.

Qatar won 1-0 in Lebanon in the day's final match. Lebanon had only themselves to blame, as Andres Quintana seized on Ramez Dayoub's poor back-pass to put the visitors ahead in the 64th minute and Youssef Mohamad missed a glorious stoppage-time chance to level the match.

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