asian cup 2011 7 - 29 january 2011 in doha qatar
news tonight japan 2 : Syrian 1
Doha: Japan kept themselves on target for a place in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011 quarter-finals after edging a dramatic Group B encounter with Syria 2-1 on Thursday in a game that saw both sides reduced to 10 men.
The Samurai Blue had taken the lead through skipper Makoto Hasebe in the 35th minute but it was in the second half that the game really came to life.
Eiji Kawashima was sent off in the 75th minute for a foul on substitute Sanharib Malki Sabah inside the area and Firas Al Khatib converted the resulting penalty.
But Japan hit back with a penalty of their own seven minutes later before Syria too ended a hot-tempered encounter with 10 men as Nadim Sabag was sent off in stoppage time.
In front of a lively crowd at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium it was Japan who were the first to fashion a chance after six minutes when Atsuto Uchida’s cross from the right found Ryoichi Maeda inside the area but the Jubilo Iwata forward planted his header just wide of the post.
The Syrians, meanwhile, should have done better midway through the half when Wael Ayan worked space for himself on the left before whipping the ball into the area but Mohammad Al Zino just failed to connect with his head.
But it was Japan who opened the scoring 10 minutes before the break. Honda worked his way into the area and, after drawing out keeper Syria Mosab Balhous, the CSKA Moscow midfielder cut the ball back to Shinji Kagawa.
The forward then skipped the challenge of a defender before launching a shot that Balhous could only push back into the dangerzone, where Daisuke Matsui prodded the ball into the path of Hasebe to drive home from just outside the box.
After the fast pace of the first half, the second period got off to a scrappy start and it was not until just after the hour for either keeper to be called into action as Ali Dyab glanced a header into the hands of Kawashima.
But in the 75th minute Syria equalised in dramatic fashion. Kawashima’s poor clearance went straight to a Syrian player who scuffed a shot goalwards that had the Japan keeper scrambling and as he attempted to gather the ball he was adjudged to have impeded the lurking Sabah.
The referee immediately pointed to the spot and after protracted protestations from the Japanese players he opted to dismiss Kawashima. Al Khatib then stepped up to slot the resulting penalty underneath the dive of substitute keeper Shusaku Nishikawa.
Parity lasted just seven minutes though when substitute Shinji Okazaki tumbled under the challenge of two Syrian players inside the area and the referee this time awarded a penalty to Japan, which Honda duly dispatched.
Syria dominated the closing stages as they looked to snatch a late equaliser but after Sabag was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence, Japan successfully closed out the game to seal the crucial three points.(the-afc.com)
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asian cup 2011 7 - 29 january 2011 in doha qatar
Label: asian cup