Monday 28 January 2019, 15:55

Japan cruise past Iran into final

  • Japan beat Iran to reach Asian Cup final

  • Second-half goals from Yuya Osako (2) and Genki Haraguchi make the difference

  • Samurai Blue will meet Qatar or hosts UAE in tournament decider

Three second-half goals saw Japan ease past in-form IR Iran to reach their fifth AFC Asian Cup final, denying their opponents a first appearance in the continental decider since 1976. reviews the first semi-final at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

IR Iran 0-3 Japan Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain

Both sides have had impressive moments up front at the Asian Cup, but at the back the pair have been absolutely rock solid. While Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand had yet to be beaten, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Maya Yoshida had been colossal at the heart of Japan’s backline. It’s perhaps fitting then that defensive concentration played a huge role in deciding this match.

The match began in a fiercely competitive fashion, though Iran’s high-pressure attacking intensity was nullified somewhat by Japan’s composure in possession. Even so, Sardar Azmoun remained the livewire threat he has been for much of the tournament, exemplified when forcing Shuichi Gonda into a smart save following a tasty pair of nutmegs.

Japan showed flashes going forward but Iran remained the brighter right into the second half, until a lapse at the back by Carlos Queiroz’s side changed that. Takumi Minamino showed great endeavour to play on after being brought down on the edge of the box, while Iran looked to the referee. His cross picked out Yuya Osako, who nodded past Beiranvand, rocking Team Melli’s firm foundations—Iran had yet to concede a goal at UAE 2019 until then.

The same pair were involved in the second, as Minamino’s cross struck the arm of Morteza Pouraliganji in the box, with Osako duly dispatching from the penalty spot. From that point on Japan looked the most likely to notch another, despite Iran throwing all they had forward. The icing on the cake for Hajime Moriyasu’s side came in injury time when Genki Haraguchi broke forward to coolly slot Japan into the final.

Up next

Semi-final Qatar-United Arab Emirates 29 January, Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi