|Saudi Arabian forward Malek Maaz scored the
decisive goal against Japan [AFP]
Saudi Arabia’s Malek Maaz struck twice as his side defeated two-time defending champions Japan 3-2 in Hanoi to set up an all West Asian final of the Asian Cup.
Striker Yasser Al Qahtani opened the score for Saudi Arabia at the 35th minute with a semi volley from 11 meters.
Abdulrahman Al Qahtani fired the ball from a free kick into the penalty area and the Al Hilal club striker made no mistake slotting the loose ball with a powerful semi volley.
In a goal shy tournament it opened the floodgates.
Yuji Nakazawa equalised for Japan two minutes later with a powerful header from Yasuhito Endo’s corner kick.
Maaz then put the Saudis back into lead again with a header two minutes after the break.
Ahmed Al Bahri broke to the right and made a good cross that found Malek’s path.
Japanese team put pressure on the Saudis and quickly found an equaliser six minutes later.
Yuki Abe acrobatic volley from close range gave Japan the equalizer.
Eintracht Frankfurt striker Naohiro Takahara’s header from Endo’s corner kick found Abe in the box.
Malek put the Saudis ahead again at the 57th minute when he beat two Japanese defenders before firing the ball past goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi from close range.