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AFC Asian Cup: Qatar, Japan, Uzbekistan win their openers

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-01-10 09:51
Qatar's Bassam Hisham scores their first goal from a free kick, Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, Jan 9, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

ABU DHABI - Qatar beat Lebanon 2-0, Japan stole a 3-2 win over Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan edged out Oman 2-1 on Wednesday in their 2019 AFC Asian Cup group openers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Group E, the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts managed to secure three points to equal Saudi Arabia in the lead.

The Qatari team showed patience and maturity against their well-organized Lebanese counterparts. Then Bassam Al Rawi and Almoez Ali scored in the second half.

It is Lebanon's second appearance in the AFC Asian Cup that it had hosted in 2000. Qatar participated in the quadrennial tournament nine times and hosted it twice in 1988 and 2011 but never won the title.

In Group F, four-time champions Japan came from behind to edge strong-willed Turkmenistan 3-2 with 70 percent of the ball possession.

Turkmenistan led 1-0 in the first half. But Japan scored three goals in 15 minutes, two of them by Yuya Osako in the 56th and 60th minutes and the third by attacking midfielder Ritsu Doan in the 71st.

Turkmen midfielder Ahmet Atayev scored from the spot in the 79th minute, after a foul by Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.

The narrow win sends Japan to the top of Group F where they are level on points with Uzbekistan who beat Oman 2-1 later.

Uzbekistani midfielder Odil Ahmedov took the initiative by scoring in the 34th minute, but the Omanis managed to equalize in the 72nd minute by substitute Muhsen Al Ghassani. Eldor Shomurodov scored the winning goal for Uzbekistan with a left-footed shot in the 85th minute.

Run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and joined by 24 teams, the 17th edition of the quadrennial AFC Asian Cup is being held in the United Arab Emirates from January 5 to February 1. The top two teams from each of the six groups, plus the best four third-placed finishers, will advance to the round of 16 knockout stage.

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