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Rediff.com  » Sports » Asian Cup: Late Inoha strike sends Japan into semi-finals

Asian Cup: Late Inoha strike sends Japan into semi-finals

January 21, 2011 22:44 IST

A last minute goal from Masahiko Inoha gave Japan a 3-2 comeback victory over hosts Qatar in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup on Friday.

Inoha was on hand to side-foot in to an empty net after Japanese forward Shinji Kagawa had broken the offside trap and drawn a challenge from Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.

Japan fully deserved their victory even after going a man down with an half an hour remaining after Maya Yoshida was sent-off for a second yellow card for a foul on Qatar forward Yusef Ahmed.

Japan's Masahiko Inoha (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal against Qatar on FridayHowever, the lateness of the winner was harsh on Qatar, ranked 105th by FIFA and bidding to reach the last four of the tournament for the first time.

Qatar took a surprise lead in the 12th minute when their Uruguyan-born striker Sebastian Suria sprang the offside trap, sprinted down the right then cut inside Masahiko Inoha and fired a left-foot shot under goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Japan's Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni was left complaining to officials that the referee should have blown for offside but television replays showed Inoha had played Soria onside.

The goal snapped Japan in to life after their sluggish start and they began dominating possession with the attacking trio of Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda creating problems for the hosts.

The equaliser came in the 28th minute when Okazaki snuk in to lift a shot over Burhan with Kagawa nodding the ball over the line from a metre out for his first goal of the tournament.

Japan continued to enjoy the majority of possesion and better chances in the second half as their slick, sharp passing game left Qatar retreating deeper and leaving the dangerous Suria isolated in attack.

But the game changed in the 62 minute when Yoshida was dismissed for bringing down Qatar's Ahmed.

Brazilian-born substitute Fabio Cesar then whipped in the resulting free-kick low from the right which curled inside the near post, catching out Kawashima who was positioned behind the goalline.

Japan regrouped, however, and equalised when Kagawa neatly finished from inside the area in the 70th minute.

Both sides had half chances to win the game but Inoha was in the right place at the right time to send the three-times winners in to the last four.

Source:
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