Asian champions Japan roared back to form with an 8-0 thrashing of Tajikistan in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying today. Four goals in each half from the Samurai Blue put the hapless Tajiks to the sword and boosted Alberto Zaccheroni's team's hopes of early progression to the continent's final qualifying stage.
Japan's lop-sided victory at Osaka Nagai Stadium followed last week's unimpressive 1-0 friendly win over Vietnam and their 1-1 draw in Uzbekistan last month.
Zaccheroni said: "This victory gives us a very good feeling. I knew hopes among fans were high. The players responded with their good performance today. I hope we can clinch [progression] before waiting for our final match in February."
Striker Mike Havenaar, 24, opened the scoring with his first international goal on 11 minutes via a header from a Yuichi Komano cross, before Shinji Okazaki made it 2-0 eight minutes later.
Komano pounced on a defensive error to get on the score-sheet in the 35th minute, and ex-Cerezo Osaka forward Shinji Kagawa, now with Borussia Dortmund, brought the house down with Japan's fourth goal before half-time.
There was no let-up in the second half as Havenaar scored again with his head and midfielder Kengo Nakamura fired home a left-footer in the 56th minute.
In the 68th minute, Kagawa's cross from the right side travelled just above Tajik goalkeeper Alisher Tuychiev and fell directly into the goal, making it 7-0.