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asian cup 2011 qatar : Japan 3-2 Qatar

Friday, January 21, 2011

Doha: Masahiko Inoha’s last-minute goal sent 10-man Japan through to semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011™ at the expense of hosts Qatar as the Samurai Blue edged a thrilling match 3-2 at Al Gharafa Stadium on Friday.

Qatar had made a dream start when Sebastian Soria opened the scoring in the 12th minute but Shinji Kagawa levelled just before the half hour.

Maya Yoshida was shown a second yellow in the 63rd minute for a foul on Yuesf Ahmed and substitute Fabio Cesar put Bruno Metsu’s side ahead from the resulting free-kick.

But Japan once again battled back with Kagawa grabbing his second before Inoha swept home in the 89th minute to seal a memorable victory for Japan.

Buoyed by a vocal home support it was the Qataris who were first to threaten as Soria saw his shot hit a defender but the ball fell kindly for Mohamed El Sayed, who slid in to stab an effort that Eiji Kawashima did well to deny.

But the Lierse SK shot-stopper was unable to prevent the hosts from opening the scoring in 12th minute through a fine individual goal from Soria.

The Uruguay-born striker expertly sprung the offside trap to race down the wing before cutting into the area where he wrong-footed defender Inoha before slotting beyond Kawashima.

But Japan managed to get themselves back on level terms in the 28th minute when Shinji Okazaki delivered a cross towards the far post where Kagawa was waiting to nod in.

Qatar keeper Qasem Burhan did well to prevent Japan then taking the lead in the 35th minute when he dived to push away a low drive from skipper Makoto Hasebe, before Kagawa fired wide as Alberto Zaccheroni’s side finished the half strongly.

They picked up where they left off when the second period got underway as Okazaki flicked a header just wide of the post before Yuto Nagamoto shot straight into the hands of Burhan.

But things took a turn for the worse for Japan in the 63rd minute when Yoshida needlessly took the legs of Yusef Ahmed on the right of the box - earning himself a second yellow card in the process - and from the resulting free-kick Fabio Cesar curled a low effort that crept in at Kawashima’s near post.

The Japanese, though, did not let their heads drop and showed great resolve to pull themselves level seven minutes later when Kagawa got the better of Mesaad Ali inside the area before driving a shot beyond Burhan.

From then on the game was wide open as Soria fired a shot into the side-netting in the 86th minute before Keisuke Honda sent a free-kick over the bar.

But it was Japan that clinched victory at the death when Kagawa received the ball just inside the area, turned his marker and though he was brought down by Khaled Muftah, Inoha was on hand to stroke the loose ball into the net.  www.the-afc.com

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