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Tamada double puts Japan into final
August 03, 2004 20:12 IST
Keiji Tamada snatched a superb extra-time winner as 10-man Japan twice came from behind to beat Bahrain 4-3 and reach the Asian Cup football final on Tuesday.
Tamada capped a two-goal performance with a fine solo effort three minutes into the first extra period, beating three defenders before slipping the ball past Bahrain goalkeeper Ali Saeed.
Japan will play either hosts China or Iran, playing in Beijing later on Tuesday, in Saturday's final.
"We had a man sent off but the players badly wanted to win and battled to the end," said Japan coach Zico, whose team beat Jordan in a controversial penalty shootout at the weekend.
"I told them they could pull off another miracle and they have."
Holders Japan, who had midfielder Yasuhio Endo harshly sent off in the 40th minute, had been heading for a shock defeat until a dramatic late equaliser from defender Yuji Nakazawa.
Substitute Duaij Naser thought he had scored the winner for Bahrain in the 85th minute, only for Nakazawa to rescue Japan with a diving header in the last minute of normal time.
Bahrain had stunned Japan after just six minutes in Jinan, A'ala Hubail latching on to a pass from Talal Yusuf to beat goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi with a low shot on the turn.
Japan were reduced to 10 men late in the first half when Endo was dismissed for striking Bahrain midfielder Mohamed Salmeen in the face, though replays showed there had been very little contact.
But Zico's side hit back three minutes into the second half, substitute Koji Nakata climbing to head in a Shunsuke Nakamura corner.
Tamada, who had been unlucky to hit the post in the 12th minute, then put Japan in front in the 55th minute with a fierce left-foot shot.
However, Hubail equalised for valiant Bahrain in the 71st minute, sliding the ball past Kawaguchi after a defensive error from Nakata had presented the ball to Sayed Mahmood Jalal -- sent off himself in extra time for striking Nakamura in the face.
Hubail amazingly missed an open goal late in extra time that could have forced penalties.