Jordan stun Japan to check World Cup progress

Goalkeeper Amer Sabbah pulled off a heroic late penalty stop on Tuesday as Jordan stunned Japan 2-1 to reignite their World Cup hopes and foil the Asian champions’ hopes of booking an early ticket to Brazil 2014.

A headed goal on the stroke of half-time and a breakaway effort on the hour-mark put the hosts 2-0 ahead but Japan got one back through Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa, and then earned a penalty just a minute later.

However, Sabbah flung himself at Yasuhito Endo’s well-taken spot-kick to earn Jordan the points that take them from bottom to second in Group B — and deny Japan the draw that would have made them the first country to qualify for the World Cup.

At the final-round qualifier inside a cacaphonic King Abdullah International Stadium, Ahmad Ibrahim flashed an early warning when he rounded Atsuto Uchida and stung Japan ‘keeper Eiji Kawashima’s hands at his near post on the quarter-hour.

At the other end, Ryoichi Maeda beat the offside trap and headed off the crossbar as Japan, the runaway leaders in Group B, pressed with their customary attacking flair, despite the absence of blond talisman Keisuke Honda.

But it was Jordan who took the lead in first-half injury time when Khalil Bani Ateyah stole in unmarked and met Amer Deeb’s corner with a header which crashed past Kawashima.

And Japan’s defence was also found wanting in the 59th minute when Gotoku Sakai lost the ball near the halfway line and Ibrahim cruised past the last defender, drifted central and poked it past the outstretched Kawashima.

Japan threw on tall striker Mike Havenaar and they got their break on 69 minutes when Hiroshi Kiyotake beat the defence with a cute backheel to Kagawa, who drilled it into the Jordanian net to make it 2-1.

Just a minute later Japan, needing only a draw to qualify for Brazil after Australia were held 2-2 by Oman earlier, appeared odds-on to book their ticket when Atsuto Uchida was brought down in the box by Jordan’s Abdallah Salim.

Despite green laser flashes from the crowd shining on his face, Endo was calmness personified as he struck a solid penalty to Sabbah’s left — but the goalkeeper stretched full-length to make a brilliant stop.

Yasuyuki Konno flashed a shot narrowly wide but Jordan held on for the win which boosted their World Cup hopes and delayed the progress of Japan, previously unbeaten in the final qualifying round, to next year’s World Cup.

The top two in both groups of five teams qualify automatically, with the two third-placed sides going into a play-off series. Japan lead Group B on 13 points, six ahead of Jordan.

Read more :
  • Laura Robson knocked out in first round of Swedish Open
    British hopeful Laura Robson has failed to progress into the second round of the Swedish Open after succumbing to a 6-4 7-6[4] defeat at the hands of Anabel Medina Garrigues. The 18-year-o...
  • Karim Benzema fined 18,000 euros for speeding
    Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been fined 18,000 euros ($23,335, ?15,580) and banned from driving for eight months after being caught speeding, a Spanish court confirmed on Friday. ...
  • Dapudong to defend title on August 31
    Edrin “The Sting” Dapudong connects a solid left to the face of Zulu fighter Gideon Buthelezi. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO SOUTH African boxing, apparently stung by Edrin “The Sting” Dapu­dong’s sen...
  • Premier League: Old boys Berbatov, Jol come back to haunt Tottenham
    Tottenham Hotspur's challenge for a Champions League place received another setback on Sunday when they lost 1-0 at home to Fulham to register a second consecutive Premier League defeat. H...
  • Guioguio wrests 3-shot lead with 70
    Lovelynn Guioguio charged home with late birdies to shoot a two-under 70 in driving rains yesterday and emerge the surprise leader by three at the start of the second leg of the ICTSI Ladie...
  • Djokovic dream still alive after Wawrinka test
    MELBOURNE - Novak Djokovic survived an almighty scare from an inspired Stan Wawrinka in a five-hour, five-set thriller at the Australian Open on Sunday, reaching a 15th consecutive grand sl...
  • Rafael Nadal loss “biggest upset in betting history”
    Ladbrokes have hailed Rafael Nadal's shock defeat at the hands of world number 100 Lukas Rosol as the "biggest upset in betting history". Nadal went a set up after a hard-fought tie-break ...
  • Michael Owen to retire at end of season
    Former England striker Michael Owen announced on Tuesday that he will retire from professional football at the end of the current season. "It is with an immense amount of pride that I am a...