ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Japan ended Iran’s Asian Cup dreams on Monday following a 3-0 win in the semi-finals at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
After a goalless first half, Japan took the lead shortly after the restart when Yuya Osako’s header beat Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand on 57 minutes. The goal was the first Iran had conceded in six matches of this year’s Asian Cup.
Osako doubled Japan’s advantage 10 minutes later, beating Beiranvand from the penalty spot. Midfielder Genki Haraguchi added a third goal in stoppage time to seal the victory for Japan.
Japan will face either Qatar or the United Arab Emirates in the final on Friday.
In the round of 16, the Japanese defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 before beating Vietnam by the same score in the quarter-finals.
Japan, who remain undefeated, topped their group, beating opponents Turkmenistan 3-2, Oman 1-0, and Uzbekistan 2-1.
The 2019 Asian Cup began on Jan. 5 and will continue until Feb. 1.
For the first time, Asia’s largest continental tournament includes 24 teams instead of the traditional 16-team format used in previous competitions.
Japan is the most successful team in Asian Cup history having won the title on four occasions.
Their latest triumph came in 2011 when they beat Australia 1-0 after extra time.
Japan is currently ranked 50 in FIFA’s world rankings (their highest ever rank was 14 in 1997).