Sports

Japan reach Asian Cup knockouts as Qatar hit North Korea for six

Monday, January 14, 2019

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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — Genki Haraguchi smashed home a controversial penalty as former champions Japan scraped a 1-0 win over Oman to book their place in the last 16 of the Asian Cup yesterday.

Earlier, Almoez Ali plundered four goals for Qatar as the 2022 World Cup hosts hit North Korea for six to progress from Group E.

Japan, who have scooped Asian football's biggest prize on four occasions, enjoyed their share of good fortune against Oman in Abu Dhabi.

Haraguchi clipped the crossbar after just two minutes before Takumi Minamino fluffed a handful of golden opportunities.

That profligacy almost came back to haunt the “Samurai Blue” as Oman flooded forward and Muhsen Al-Ghassani shaved the post from an acute angle.

But Haraguchi settled Japan's nerves in the 28th minute, converting from the spot after he had appeared to go down easily under minimal contact from Oman captain Ahmed Al-Mahaijri.

Oman had extra reason to feel aggrieved when their own penalty claims were waved away just before half-time, after Yuto Nagatomo looked to have handled a Salaah Al-Yahyaei drive.

Japan reached the knockout stages of last year's World Cup but they squeaked past Turkmenistan 3-2 in their opening Group F game and were poor against Oman, who almost equalised when Raed Saleh's acrobatic late volley flashed wide.

Qatar's 6-0 romp over North Korea was played out in an almost eery silence in front of barely 300 spectators in Al Ain.

In the day's late kick-off, Eldor Shomurodov bagged a first-half brace as Uzbekistan crushed Turkmenistan 4-0, in a clash of former Soviet republics, to progress and go top of Group F ahead of Japan on goal difference.


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