Strong Iran left empty-handed in Asian Cup

January 28, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran’s dream of making it to their first AFC Asian Cup final after 43 years was over as Team Melli lost to Japan 3-0 in the competition’s semi-final on Monday.

Carlos Queiroz’s side, who were the favorites to win the Asian Cup, lost to the Samurai Blue at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.

Japan looked more dangerous in the start of the match and Ritsu Doan left-footed shot from the center of the box missed to the right.

Three minutes later, Sardar Azmoun shot from the left side of the box was pushed away for a corner by Japan goalkeeper Gonda.

In the 56th minute, Yuya Osako opened Iran’s goal with a header.

Japan were awarded a penalty in the 67th minute after Takumi Minamino cross touched the hand of a sliding Morteza Pouraligani.

Upon review with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), Australian referee Chris Beath confirmed the penalty and Osako scored his second goal.

Team Melli tried to find a way back into the contest and young players Saman Ghoddos and Mehdi Torabi came off the bench but failed to pull a goal back.

In the dying moments of the match, Genki Haraguchi found the back of the net on a counter attack.

The four-time champions will face the winners of the UAE and Qatar on Friday.

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