Japan beat Singapore, take control of Group E

Japan moved to the top of the standings in Group E of the 2018 World Cup 2019 Asia Cup qualifiers after beating Singapore 3-0 on Thursday.

The result leaves Japan on 13 points, one ahead of Syria while Singapore are in third place, another two points behind.

Japan's goals were scored by Mu Kanasaki, Keisuke Honda and Maya Yoshida.

Prior to the match, Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic spoke of his desire to exact his revenge on Singapore, after the two nations played out a goalless draw in the reverse fixture in Saitama in June, and the Bosnian coach got his wish.

Samurai Blue were the aggressors from kick-off although they had to wait until the 20th minute to breach Singapore keeper Izwan bin Mahbud's goal for the first time.

Honda lofted a cross to Yoshinori Muto, who headed it down for Kanazaki, who in turn took the ball on his chest before thumping a left-footed strike into the top corner to score his maiden goal for the national side in his first match back in the starting XI following a five-year hiatus.

Honda went close with a free-kick shortly after, but the AC Milan midfielder wasn't to be denied in the 26th minute when, after a lovely move with several exchanges in the Singapore half, he found the back of the net albeit from a slight deflection.

After the half-time break, Singapore showed significant improvement and nearly got goal back through Safuwan Baharudin, before Hafiz Abu Sujad wasted a headed opportunity failed to connect with a header in what was arguably the hosts' best chance from open play.

Meanwhile, Kanazaki was denied a brace when he was flagged for offside having already put the ball in the back of the net, while Izwan denied Honda with a fantastic save later on.

In the 88th minute, Japan got their third of the night when substitute Takashi Usami smashed a drive through the crowded penalty area and the ball struck centre-back Yoshida on the shin and trickled over the line.