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World Cup-bound Japan end on flat draw

SAITAMA, JAPAN (AFP) – Japan drew 1-1 with Vietnam yesterday to end their World Cup qualifying campaign on a flat note days after booking their place in Qatar.

The four-time Asian champions fell behind to a 19th-minute goal by Vietnam’s Nguyen Thanh Binh, leaving them trailing at half-time to a team that had taken just three points from nine games in Group B.

Japan captain Maya Yoshida equalised in the 54th minute but the home side could not find a winner and had a goal disallowed.

Yoshida was guilty of a shocking miss as Japan came back down to earth after qualifying for their seventh straight World Cup with a dramatic win over Australia in Sydney last week.

Japan and Saudi Arabia had already clinched the two automatic qualification spots in Group B, with Australia assured of the playoff place.

Japan’s Maya Yoshida and Vietnam’s Pham Tuan Hai battle for the ball. PHOTO: AP
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