Substitute Joshua Kennedy scored late in the game as Australia laboured their way to the 2014 World Cup with a 1-0 victory against Iraq in Sydney on Tuesday.

Kennedy headed home Mark Bresciano’s right-wing cross in the 83rd minute on a wet night, five minutes after coming off the subs’ bench for Tim Cahill.

Australia clinched second place in Asian qualifying group B with 13 points to book their ticket for Brazil 2014 along with group winners Japan (17 points), who qualified a fortnight ago. Oman is third on nine points ahead of their final game with Jordan (five).

The Socceroos were far from glorious against bottom side Iraq, but are now at the third straight World Cup.

The two direct berths from group A were to be decided later Tuesday, with leaders South Korea (14 points) playing second-placed Iran (13), and Uzbekistan (11) playing eliminated Qatar.

The third-placed teams from each group meet in a play-off tie, and the winner will play the fifth-placed team from South America for a place at Brazil 2014.

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