Japan 1 Qatar 3: Ali leads Sanchez's men to maiden Asian Cup title

Posted Saturday, February 02, 2019 by Goal.com

Japan 1 Qatar 3: Ali leads Sanchez's men to maiden Asian Cup title

Qatar were crowned Asian Cup champions for the first time after defeating Japan 3-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium on Friday.

Almoez Ali made history as Qatar triumphed against Japan to claim their first Asian Cup title with a 3-1 final win on Friday.

Tournament top-scorer Ali took his tally to a record-breaking nine goals with a sublime overhead kick before Abdelaziz Hatim then curled in a brilliant second before half-time.

Japan dominated possession after the break yet took their time to forge a response, with Qatar - who had kept six clean sheets en route to the final - finally conceding when Takumi Minamino scored in the 69th minute.

Felix Sanchez's men would not be denied, though, and Akram Hassan Afif punished Maya Yoshida's handball with a coolly taken penalty to clinch the 2022 World Cup hosts' maiden triumph.

Ali took just 12 minutes to light up the final, controlling Afif's cross with his back to goal to tee himself up for an outrageous volley.

The forward almost added a quick second when he ran through, Yoshida recovering to make a crucial block, but another stunning strike followed when Hatim found the net from 25 yards out.

With Qatar's defence still yet to be breached, Japan had it all to do and almost fell further behind when Hasan Al Haydos hammered against the outside of the post from a tight angle.

Hatim passed up a golden opportunity to seal victory after the interval when he lashed over from close range, while an apparently serious injury to Boualem Khoukhi put a slight dampener on proceedings, and Japan then belatedly broke through.

Minamino pounced on a loose ball to delicately lift a finish over Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.

But the Samurai Blue's comeback bid was cut short when Yoshida handled at the other end and, after referee Ravshan Irmatov consulted VAR, Afif converted from the spot.


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