Japan took a small step toward qualifying for this year’s World Cup as Junya Ito scored for the third straight game in Samurai Blue’s 2-0 win over China in an Asian Group B final-round qualifier on Thursday.

The win at Saitama Stadium kept manager Hajime Moriyasu’s side second in the group with 15 points from seven games. Group leader Saudi Arabia, which has 16 points from six games, faces Japan here on Tuesday. The group’s top two teams earn spots at the finals in Qatar in November.

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