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Iran overturns Japan with late penalty, Qatar makes semis after shootout

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-04 13:03
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Iran's Alireza Jahanbakhsh scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the quarter final game against Japan at Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar February 3, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

DOHA - Alireza Jahanbakhsh scored a late penalty as Iran came from behind to beat Japan 2-1 and reached the semifinals of the AFC Asian Cup here on Saturday.

Iran, who was defeated by Japan 3-0 in the Asian Cup semifinals in 2019, took sweet revenge by eliminating the top favorite of this year's tournament.

"Iran should be proud. The players gave everything they had, and I think the result can be a turning point for Iranian football," Iran coach Amir Ghalenoei said.

Japan broke the deadlock in the 28th minute, when Hidemasa Morita skipped past three Iranian defenders before scoring the goal.

Without suspended star striker Mehdi Taremi, Mohammad Mohebi stood out to level for Iran in the 55th minute, thanks to a through ball from Sardar Azmoun.

Six minutes into stoppage time, Jahanbakhsh converted the spot kick after Ko Itakura brought Hussein Kanaani down inside the box.

"I have to admit Iran was the better team today," Japanese captain Wataru Endo said. "It's been a tournament that made us realize once again it's tough battling in Asia. We aren't done here, we have to return to our clubs and go about our business carrying the sense of frustration."

Iran will next face defending champion Qatar, who edged Uzbekistan 3-2 in the penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham made three successful saves in the dramatic shootout.

Qatar took the lead in the 27th minute when Hassan Al Haydos shot from a tight angle and forced an own goal from Uzbekistan goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov, but Oiljon Hamrobekov found the equalizer in the 58th minute with a low strike.

The home team also missed twice in the shootout as Almoez Ali's kick was parried in the second round and Almahdi Ali fired the ball over the crossbar in the fourth round.

However, Barsham denied Rustamjon Ashurmatov, Zafarmurod Abdirahmatov and Jaloliddin Masharipov in the second, fourth and fifth rounds respectively to gift his team a spot in the semifinals.

"With penalties there is some anticipation and there is some luck. Thankfully I got lucky and saved three penalties," Barsham noted.

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