Aleksandr Shadrin scored the only goal as Uzbekistan beat Japan 1-0 on Wednesday to top their group in Asian third round qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Shadrin buried a 54th minute rebound after Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima saved Bakhodir Nasimov's header as the AFC Asian Cup holders crashed to the second defeat of their campaign. Both teams had already booked their places in the next round but the win took Uzbekistan to the head of Group C on 16 points, ahead of Japan on 10 points.
Japan had a chance to take the lead in the 22nd minute when Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki hit the bar after a ball from Shinji Kagawa. Okazaki found the net in the 36th minute, but the goal was disallowed for a foul by fellow forward Mike Havenaar of Vitesse Arnhen on Uzbek goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.
Japan had scored 14 times in five games before Wednesday's fixture, but the Uzbek defence blunted their attack, restricting the hosts to a long-range effort from Havenaar in the 71st minute.
"We should have scored in the first half when we had several chances. Uzbekistan took the offensive in the second half and we couldn't play our game," said Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni.