Iraq stun favourites Japan to reach Asian Cup last 16

Iraq stun favourites japan to reach asian cup last 160

Aymen Hussein scored two first-half headers as Iraq defeated Asian Cup favourites Japan 2-1 on Friday to advance to the knockout stages.

Japan suffered its first Asian Cup group-stage loss in 26 matches, putting them on a collision path with South Korea in the last 16 in Qatar, if they advance.

Iraq, rated 63rd in the world versus Japan’s 17, had a nerve-racking finale as Liverpool’s Wataru Endo equalised in the third of eight minutes of added time.

However, they hung on and currently have six points after defeating Indonesia 3-1 in their first encounter.

They face Vietnam in their last group encounter on Wednesday.

Japan, the four-time winners, now has three points after defeating Vietnam 4-2 in their opening and will play Indonesia on Wednesday.

Hajime Moriyasu’s team entered the game in Doha on the heels of a 10-game winning run during which they scored 43 goals.

However, they had no response for Iraq’s force and aggressiveness, which was supported by about 40,000 people in the audience.

VAR correctly reversed Japan’s penalty award in the second half.

Moriyasu’s team was again without injured Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma, who was not included to the matchday roster.

Takefusa Kubo, who has six goals for Real Sociedad this season, began on the bench against Vietnam.

Hussein was one of five changes to the Iraq starting lineup, having scored as a substitute against Indonesia.

The attacker scored twice quickly, heading home after Japan custodian Zion Suzuki failed to deal with a cross.

Japan had a similarly sluggish start against Vietnam, surrendering two goals in the first half before recovering before the interval.

However, they found Iraq much difficult and were unable to produce any clear-cut opportunities for the remainder of the first half.

Instead, Iraq scored again in injury time, with Hussein holding off Hiroki Ito and nodding in from close range.

Japan introduced Takehiro Tomiyasu at halftime for the Arsenal defender’s first outing of the tournament.

In the 56th minute, Rebin Solaka was called for tripping Takuma Asano, and Japan was awarded a penalty kick.

However, a VAR assessment determined that the tackle was clean. Additionally, Ritsu Doan missed a free kick less than 10 minutes later.

Mohanad Ali, a substitute, almost scored Iraq’s third goal halfway through the second half, but his effort drifted agonisingly wide of the post.

Endo gave Japan hope by pulling one back deep into injury time, but it was too late.

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