Keisuke Honda goal helps Japan beat Iraq 1-0 in Asian Cup
Honda scored the only goal of the game in the first half
Brisbane, Jan 16 A penalty kick from Keisuke Honda helped defending champions Japan beat Iraq 1-0 in the Asian Cup Group D second round match here Friday.
The four-time Asian Cup champions dominated the field and Shinji Kagawa's long shot in the 11th minute only missed the bar and went slightly wide, reports Xinhua.
Japan almost broke the deadlock in the l7th minute when a fantastic delivery from Yoto Nakgtomo gave Honda a threatening header, which hit the post.
The goal came in the 24th minute as Honda earned a penalty shot and the AC Milan midfielder stepped up to slot it home. Honda collected a rebound from Iraq's goalkeeper Jalal Hassan Hachim's save but was sandwiched by two Iraqi players to a foul in the box.
Japan got the chance to expand their lead five minutes later when Shinji Okazaki's header found the target, but only saw the ball denied by Hassan.
Japan kept on their domination in the second half with only two minutes into the game as Honda got a shot from outside the area but just hit the crossbar again.
Later, Iraq tried hard for to equalise, but they were halted by the experienced Japanese backline.
Honda missed another opportunity to score in the 65th minute as his header hit the right bar. Japan continued to press on in the closing minutes as Okazaki's header went over the bar.
Both the teams had won their first matches as Japan smashed Palestine 4-1 and Iraq beat Jordan 1-0.