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Japan beat Australia 2-0 to qualify for World Cup

Football Soccer - Japan v Australia - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama Japan - August 31, 2017 - Japan's Ideguchi Yosuke celebrates his goal. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Football Soccer - Japan v Australia - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama Japan - August 31, 2017 - Japan's Ideguchi Yosuke celebrates his goal. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan booked their place in the 2018 World Cup with an emphatic 2-0 win over Australia in Saitama on Thursday that took their Asian arch-rivals' hopes of qualifying for Russia out of their hands.

Takuma Osano scored late in the first half before 21-year-old midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi covered himself in glory with a sumptuous finish in the 82nd minute as the Samurai Blue sealed a sixth straight appearance in the global showpiece.

Japan are now assured of finishing top of Group B in Asian qualifying before their final match away to second-placed Saudi Arabia, a match that Australia will watch nervously.

Third-placed Australia will need a handsome victory over Thailand in their final qualifier and hope Japan can beat or draw with the Saudis, who have a better goal difference than the Socceroos.

Japan join Iran, Brazil and hosts Russia in the 32-team tournament, which will be held from June 14 to July 15 next year.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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