Japan overcame Cuba to move closer to a semi-final spot ©Getty Images

Japan moved to the brink of a fourth consecutive World Baseball Classic semi-final after securing victory over Cuba in their second round clash at the Tokyo Dome.

The host nation had begun the second round in fine fashion when they defeated the Netherlands, the reigning European champions, two days ago.

Cuba began the match impressively as they took a 2-1 lead after the first two innings as they looked to keep their hopes of a semi-final spot alive.

The host nation quickly drew level, as they achieved a run in the next innings.

The 32,717 crowd were treated to a tense affair as Cuba scored two runs in the fourth, only for the Japanese team to replicate that feat in the fifth.

Both teams were locked together a 5-5 heading into the eight innings, where the Japanese team would strike a decisive blow by scoring three runs.

Cuba were unable to respond in the ninth, consigning them to an 8-5 defeat.

Cuba's defeat means their semi-final hopes are hanging by a thread ©Getty Images
Cuba's defeat means their semi-final hopes are hanging by a thread ©Getty Images

A second straight Pool E victory saw Japan take a major step towards the semi-finals, ahead of their final second round match against Israel tomorrow.

Cuba will need to overcome the Netherlands tomorrow and hope Israel suffer defeat if they are to have a chance of competing in the final.

A tiebreaker match would be required to decide the final qualifier from the pool, as Cuba, the Netherlands and Israel would have the same record.

Pool F, another second round group, got underway this evening as defending champions Dominican Republic fell to a 1-3 defeat to Puerto Rico at the Petco Park in California.

In a repeat of the 2013 final, the Dominican Republic suffered their first defeat at the World Baseball Classic since 2009.