#AsianCup2019: A Glimpse through the Semis

Rohit Ganguly  |  Asian Cup  |  2 Months Ago

After two gruelling battles of ninety minutes each, Japan and Qatar sailed through to the finals of the 17th edition of the AFC Asian Cup. 


Japan punished Iran with extreme prejudice in a fascinating encounter which saw aggravated tension in the dying embers of the game. Qatar snuffed out the hosts’ dreams of surging ahead to the finals in a scintillating 4-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates.

Japan versus Iran: The Japanese exhibited relentless brilliance to stun a high-soaring Iran. Japan 3-0 Iran


After a cagey first-half, Japan unfolded their wings and a schoolboy error from Iran gave away the lead to the Blue army. It was Takumi Minamino for Japan who was tripped at the edge of the box by Hossein’s miscued challenge. The Iran players relinquished their defensive duties and surrounded the referee for an imaginative whistle which was heard by no one on the pitch. Minamino whipped in a cross for an unmarked and free Osako, who headed the ball home, absolutely unchallenged.


En route to their second,  Haraguchi muscled Pouraliganji in the box and teed up an advancing Minamino with acres of free space ahead. Minamino slammed the ball into the hand of a diving Pouraliganji and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. It was Osako who stepped up and slammed the ball into the net, steering Beiranvand in the opposite direction.


Japan hit the final nail in the coffin as Haraguchi blasted the ball past a stranded Iran custodian to make it 3-0. The dying embers of the game witnessed some flared tempers as the teams exchanged some heated pushing and shoving which culminated with a booking of Nagamoto.

Qatar versus UAE: A beautiful brand of football from Qatar divulged the ugly side of UAE. Qatar 4-0 UAE


Amongst a comedy of errors from both ends Qatar capitalized on their first positive attempt. Boulaem Khouki shot from the edge of the box and the UAE goalie, Eisa, let the ball slip right under his arms into the net.


Qatar’s second goal was an absolute screamer from Almoez Ali, who unleashed a meaty pile driver from outside the penalty box and the ball ricocheted off the far post into the net.


A cheeky touch from a midfielder set up the third for Qatar. The ball fell in the way of an onrushing Hassan Al-Haydos, who made good use of his speed to dink the ball over an advancing UAE custodian.


Qatar completed the rout with a lucky fourth from substitute Hamid Ismail. After being teed up by a defence-splitting through ball from Madibo, Ismail made good space and peeled the ball into the net with slight aid from the extended feet of Eisa.


However, the game was scathed by some ugly scenes in the end as there were bottles and paper missiles subjected to the ground targeting players. After such a redoubtable effort from the hosts, these scenes were more than enough to spark hatred for the entire footballing contingency.


Qatar made it to the Asian Cup final for the first time and will lock horns with Japan, to put the most fitting end to this quadrennial continental extravaganza.  


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