18.11.2014 15:13 h

Okazaki wonder goal gives Japan edge over Australia

Japan striker Shinji Okazaki scored with a swashbuckling backheel as the Asian champions beat fierce rivals Australia 2-1 in a friendly on Tuesday.

Okazaki's right-foot flick in the 68th minute made it 2-0 to the home side in Osaka, and was a goal which Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi would have been proud of.

It also gave Japan breathing room -- and they needed it, as Tim Cahill popped up to score with a trademark header in extra time which would otherwise have given the Socceroos a share of the spoils before a potential meeting at the Asian Cup in Australia beginning on January 9.

Substitute Yasuyuki Konno headed the Blue Samurai in front after 61 minutes as Australia's defence contrived to let a Keisuke Honda corner travel unmolested to the back post.

Okazaki's moment of magic gave him a 40th international goal before Cahill gave the visitors a deserved consolation, though it came too late to prevent Japan coach Javier Aguirre recording back-to-back wins for the first time since taking over after the World Cup.

Japan, who beat Australia in the 2011 Asian Cup final to lift the trophy for a record fourth time, had thrashed Honduras 6-0 last Friday after Aguirre brought back the team's old guard in a bid to stop the rot following a woeful run of form.

Despite the victory, the Mexican looked to be getting his excuses in early before Japan head Down Under to defend their Asian title.

"It's a building process," said the former Espanyol manager. "We wanted to win both these games and we've done that. Australia are the Asian Cup hosts so it will not be an easy tournament for us to win."

The Socceroos could have made life very uncomfortable for Aguirre had a fine header by Mathew Leckie not been acrobatically tipped onto the bar by goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima early on.

Japan had won just once in four matches under Aguirre before ripping apart sorry Honduras -- a fortuitous 1-0 victory over Jamaica -- and were humiliated by Brazil last month when Neymar ran riot, scoring all four goals in a 4-0 demolition job.

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