Manchester United new recruit Shinji Kagawa got amongst the goals in Japan's 6-0 demolition of Jordan in World Cup qualifying Friday, as Australia laboured to a goalless stalemate with Oman.
Kagawa, whose club Borussia Dortmund agreed terms this week with the English giants, bagged his first goal of the final qualifying phase in another flawless attacking display by Japan after their 3-0 win over Oman last weekend.
The attack-minded midfielder grabbed Japan's fourth, 10 minutes before half-time, with a curling strike from the edge of the box in front of a packed Saitama Stadium.
But the night belonged to Keisuke Honda as the CSKA Moscow dangerman dazzled with a hat-trick against 10-man Jordan, who had striker Abdallah Deeb sent off for two cautions on 27 minutes.
Bleach-blond Honda set up the opener, a header by J-League goal ace Ryoichi Maeda, before running riot with three goals in just over half-an-hour, topped off with a penalty on 53 minutes.
"It was a hat-trick helped by my team-mates. They allowed me to hit a penalty shot as well," said Honda, who has only recently returned to the team after injury.
"I've been playing well, but the team itself is playing well. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum for our next game against Australia. We now have two wins as we had planned. The next game will be important."
Defender Yuzo Kurihara angled a header downwards for Japan's sixth and a win which will put them in high spirits before Tuesday's game in Brisbane -- a re-match of last year's Asian Cup final, which the Blue Samurai won.
"I feel great," said Japan's Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni. "I told my players to improve the accuracy from the game against Oman and they did. It was good to score six goals and our performance was also good.
"It was an important game. Jordan are also trying hard to go to the World Cup, but we also want to qualify. There's only two tickets. I think we showed our stronger feelings to get the ticket."
Japan already have a five-point lead in Group B, one of two five-team pools. The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for Brazil 2014, and the third-placed sides go into the play-offs.
But Australia made a low-key entry into the final qualifying phase when they were held 0-0 in Muscat by Oman, a team ranked 73 places below them in the FIFA rankings.
In sapping afternoon heat at Sultan Qaboos stadium, the Aussies only briefly threatened and they relied on their Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to prevent an embarrassing defeat.
But Holger Osieck's Socceroos at least come away with a point from Muscat, where they were beaten by Oman in the previous qualifying round last November.
Amad Al Hosni was a constant threat for Oman and he was unlucky with a snap volley early in the second half. The Omani then drew a superb reaction save from Schwarzer, diving low to his left, with a close-range header.
Australia, who had been foiled by Wigan stopper Ali Al Habsi in the first half, nearly snatched the win late on when substitute Archie Thompson went close first with a toe-poke and then a looping header in injury time.
In Beirut, Lebanon and Uzbekistan ground out a 1-1 draw. The Uzbeks replaced their coach Vadim Abramov with former star player Mirjalol Kasimov after last week's 1-0 loss to Iran, but to little immediate effect.
South Korea meanwhile bounced back from a goal down to see off Qatar 4-1 in their Group A Asian qualifier at the air-cooled Al Sadd Stadium.
The 2002 World Cup semi-finalists suffered a 22nd minute setback when Qatar forward Yousef Ahmed Ali put the hosts ahead.
However two goals from Lee Keun-ho and one each by captain Kwak Tae-hwi and Kim Shin-wook put the visitors on course for an eighth consecutive World Cup finals, stretching back to Mexico in 1986.