Asian Cup: Japan beat Uzbekistan 2-1

Al Ain, Jan 17 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 1/17/2019 12:02:33 PM IST

Japan have secured top spot in AFC Asian Cup 2019 Group F after coming from behind to beat Uzbekistan 2-1 at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium on Thursday.

It initially looked as though it would be Uzbekistan that would finish the group stage with a perfect record of three consecutive wins, when Eldor Shomurodov broke the deadlock with a lovely run and finish.

However, it did not take the Japanese long to respond through a Yoshinori Muto header, before Tsukasa Shiotani’s stunning long-range effort handed them maximum points.

Takashi Inui was the first to really threaten for Japan 19 minutes in when a ball was cleared to him on the edge of the box, with his well-struck half-volley sending Ignatiy Nesterov sprawling to his left to make the save.

Nonetheless, it was the Uzbeks who broke the deadlock in the 40th minute when courtesy of a brilliant solo effort by Eldor Shorumodov, who is fast emerging as one of the revelations of the tournament.

Running onto Dostonbek Khamdamov’s probing pass down the right, the 23-year-old powered his way past Tomoaki Makino and showed lovely feet to skip inside Genta Miura before poking a shot past Daniel Schmidt for his fourth goal in three matches.

Having fallen behind – and in real danger of finishing second and meeting defending champion Australia in the Round of 16 – the Samurai Blue needed to awaken from their slumber and it took them all of three minutes to respond.

Sei Muroya was the architect as he produced a brilliant down to get around Ikromjon Alibaev on the wing and race towards the byline, where he proceeded to float an inch-perfect cross for Muto to meet with a bullet header into the back of the net.

And, three minutes before the hour mark, Japan edged ahead – this time courtesy of a wonder strike by Shiotani, who must have been inspired the familiar surrounding where he plays his club football with Al Ain.

A ball into the box was half-cleared and fell to the edge of the box, where Shiotani met with a stunning strike that had Nesterov beaten all ends up.

At this point, Japan were not only on track to completing the comeback on the night, but had also overtaken their opponents at the top of the group.

While the White Wolves did show some endeavour in trying to force their way back into the contest, they barely threatened the Japan goal bar an 86th-minute drive from Davron Khashimov, but Schmidt was alert to the danger and tipped it over smartly to secure the win for Japan.


Oman beat Turkmenistan 3-1

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