Qatar defeat Japan 3-1 and win Asian Cup for the first time #VotoAbertoSimRenanNão

Abu Dhabi:  Qatar were crowned AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 champions on Friday as superb goals from Almoez Ali and Abdelaziz Hatim laid the foundation for a 3-1 win over Japan in a rousing final at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

The pair both found the net brilliantly in an inspirational first half for Qatar, while, despite a spirited second-half display from Japan, Akram Afif added a late penalty to secure the West Asian nation’s first-ever Continental crown in spectacular fashion.

On a historic night for the Qataris, Felix Sanchez’s talented charges recorded their seventh successive victory, while Ali’s ninth strike of the competition saw him break Ali Daei’s record for the most goals by a player in a single edition of Asia’s premier event.

While there was unbridled joy for Qatar, the defeat ended Japanese hopes of claiming what would have been a record-extending fifth title.

Japan, who had Tsukasa Shiotani replacing Wataru Endo, were quick to take the game to Qatar as Yuya Osako sent a fourth minute effort wide of the target.

However, it was to be their opponents who took the lead just eight minutes later through a moment of brilliance from Ali.

The young striker received the ball from Afif before juggling the ball twice and sending a spectacular overhead kick beyond the reach of Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda to etch himself into the record books and further underline his burgeoning reputation.

After their early setback, Japan looked for a quick response, but continually failed to find a way through a resolute Qatari defence that had not conceded a single goal en route to the title showdown.

With their frontline failing to shine, worse was to come for Japan on 27 minutes when yet another Akram Afif assist – his 10th of the competition – found the back from suspension Abdelaziz Hatim who curled a delightful effort into the bottom corner to double Qatar’s advantage.

Two nearly became three for Qatar shortly after, as captain Hassan Al Haydos hit the outside of a post with an angled shot following Pedro Correia’s deflected cross.

To their credit, Japan refused to buckle, and they came close to reducing the deficit on the stroke of half-time, Osako narrowly failing to apply a finishing touch to a Yuto Nagatomo cross when well-placed.

In need of a response, Japan once again started brightly, with Maya Yoshida heading over from a corner inside the first five minutes of the second period.

With the game’s pace showing no sign of relenting, Almoez Ali then skied a chance from close-range, while, at the other end, substitute Yoshinori Muto and Yoshida both flashed headers off target as the Samurai Blue continued to press.

Their persistence duly paid off on 69 minutes as Takumi Minamino reduced the deficit courtesy of a wonderful dinked finish over Qatar custodian Saad Al Sheeb after being set up by Osako.

It mattered little however, as, with eight minutes remaining, referee Ravshan Irmatov pointed to the spot following Yoshida’s handball and a subsequent VAR review. Akram Afif converted the resulting penalty with aplomb to confirm Qatar’s title.

Roll of Honour

MVP, Top Goalscorer: Almoez Ali (Qatar)

Best Goalkeeper: Saad Al Sheeb (Qatar)

Man-of-the-Match: Akram Afif (Qatar)

Fairplay Award: Japan

 

Source : Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

IR Iran 0-3 Japan

Al Ain: Yuya Osako returned to Japan’s starting line-up to score a second-half brace and seal the Samurai Blue’s spot in the final of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 as Hajime Moriyasu’s side defeated the Islamic Republic of Iran 3-0 at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Monday.

Osako, who was included from the start for the first time since sustaining a hip injury in Japan’s opening game, put the four-time champions in front 11 minutes after the interval before doubling his side’s lead midway through the half from the penalty spot.

The Werder Bremen striker’s double – and Genki Haraguchi’s late third – sent his nation into their fifth AFC Asian Cup final since 1992 and they will face the winners of the semi-final between the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in the decider on Friday.

Both sides made one change from the line-ups that started their respective quarter-finals, with Carlos Queiroz picking Vahid Amiri to replace the suspended Mahdi Karimi while Osako finally returned to lead the line for Japan in place of Koya Kitagawa.

Iran started aggressively and, 10 minutes into the game, Alireza Jahanbakhsh almost played in Sardar Azmoun, only for the awareness of Takehiro Tomiyasu to deny the Iran striker. Their battle was to be a feature of the opening 45 minutes, with Tomiyasu consistently coming out on top.

For all Iran’s determination, it was the Japanese who first unlocked the opposing defence as Osako’s ball found space behind Jahanbakhsh and the advancing Yuto Nagatomo sent in a low cross that Takumi Minamino could only steer wide.

That, though, sparked a period of Japanese pressure, with Maya Yoshida heading wide from Gaku Shibasaki’s corner while Ritsu Doan dragged his attempt just wide of goal.

The action continued in a breakneck opening 30 minutes, with Azmoun denied by Shuichi Gonda, the FC Tokyo goalkeeper saving well with his foot to make amends after gifting possession to the Iranians seconds earlier.

 

Iran continued to press in the opening minutes of the second half as Ashkan Dejagah and Hajisafi both saw their attempts miss the target before a moment of indecision cost Queiroz’s side the opening goal.

Hossein Kanani turned to protest to referee Chris Beath following a collision with Minamino and, while the Australian official ignored the Iranian pleas, Minamino showed the presence of mind to scamper after the ball. His inch perfect cross allowed Osako to head home.

Jahanbakhsh almost restored parity five minutes later, only for Gonda to tip his free-kick over the bar while Morteza Pouraliganji headed just off target moments later.

 

But, just as Iran were gaining momentum, the Japanese doubled their lead.

Minamino was again involved, this time trying to cut his pass back into the centre when the ball struck the sliding Pouraliganji on the arm. Beath paused before pointing to the spot and, after his decision was confirmed via a VAR review, Osako send Alireza Beiranvand the wrong way.

The second goal took the fight out of the Iranians and in added time Haraguchi added the third with a burst through the defence before smashing his shot past Beiranvand to confirm Japan’s progress to the final.

 

Source : Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

#AFCAsianCup2019 Final Four confirmed

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Abu Dhabi: The AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 final four line-up has been confirmed, with host nation United Arab Emirates joined by former winners Japan and Islamic Republic of Iran and first-time semi-finalists Qatar.

With the remaining teams all having proven their quality, the scene is now set for two mouth-watering semi-finals, with the winners to progress to the AFC Asian Cup Final at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium on February 1.

Who, when, where?

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN v JAPAN

Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain – 18:00, January 28

With seven AFC Asian Cup titles between them, the first semi-final brings together two of the competition’s most successful ever sides.

Four-time champions Japan have been the competition’s dominant team in the modern era, lifting the trophy in 2000, 2004 and 2011 after breaking through for the maiden crown in 1992, while three-time winners Iran haven’t held the crown since 1976.

Quarter Finals: Vietnam vs Japan

With both sides yet to taste defeat so far in the UAE, something has to give in Al Ain, and football fans are already anticipating what looms as an instant classic between Carlos Queiroz’s Team Melli and Hajime Moriyasu’s Samurai Blue.

Despite their proud records in the AFC Asian Cup, the two sides have only met twice in the competition. They played out a scoreless draw in Doha in 1988, while a goal from a youthful Kazuyoshi Miura sealed a 1-0 win for Japan in Hiroshima four years later.

Quarter-final: China PR vs IR Iran

QATAR v UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi – 18:00, January 29

Five straight wins, including three in a row against former champions, have rocketed Qatar to the final four for the first time in history, while Alberto Zaccheroni’s United Arab Emirates side continues to gather steam when it counts most.

Having beaten Korea Republic and Australia in their respective semi-finals, Qatar and United Arab Emirates are now potentially 180 minutes away from becoming Asian champions, a title neither has ever held.

Quarter-final: Korea Republic vs Qatar

Felix Sanchez’s Qatar side boast seven-goal tournament scoring leader Almoez Ali, while the Emiratis feature Ali Mabkhout, who won Golden Boot at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia, and has aleady found the back of the net four times in this tournament.

The nations have previously met four times in the Continental Finals, winning twice each, with a Mabkhout-inspired United Arab Emirates prevailing 4-1 in their last meeting in this competition in Canberra four years ago.

 

Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE