Japan beats Iran to reach Asian Cup football final

Osako scores a brace in Japan's 3-0 win, the first time in the current tournament that Iran conceded a goal.

    Forward Osako did the damage in the second half by scoring the first goals conceded by Iran in the tournament [Suhaib Salem/Reuters]
    Forward Osako did the damage in the second half by scoring the first goals conceded by Iran in the tournament [Suhaib Salem/Reuters]

    Japan will play for a record fifth Asian Cup title after beating Iran 3-0 to reach the final.

    Striker Yuya Osako scored twice in 11 second-half minutes to help four-time champions Japan beat tournament favourites on Monday.

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    Osako headed in the first goal in the 56th minute and added his second from the penalty spot to help set up a date with either hosts the United Arab Emirates or Qatar in Friday's final.

    Genki Haraguchi put a gloss to the scoreline with a powerful run and shot in stoppage time at the end of the match but the contest was already long decided.

    Japan has been rebuilding under coach Hajime Moriyasu after reaching the knockout stage at the World Cup in Russia.

    "We knew it was going to be tough but the players showed great fighting spirit," said Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu.

    "I'm happy the players showed that fighting spirit and really went for the win."

    Iran missed forward Mehdi Taremi, who had scored three goals in this Asian Cup.

    Carlos Queiroz announced in the post-match news conference that his nearly eight-year run as Iran coach, which took in two World Cups, was over.

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    "I think the simplest thing to do is to copy the old song: 'and now, the end is here'," the 65-year-old Portuguese said, misquoting the song Frank Sinatra made famous.

    "I'm happy and proud to say I did it my way."

    SOURCE: News agencies