AFC Asian Cup

IR Iran and Japan set up mouthwatering semi-final

Sardar Azmoun of Iran (R) celebrates after scoring his side's second goal 
© Getty Images
  • Ritsu Doan's penalty sends Japan to semi-finals
  • IR Iran book ticket with comfortable win over China PR
  • VAR debuts at the AFC Asian Cup

Japan edged Vietnam thanks to a second-half penalty converted by Ritsu Doan, while IR Iran beat China PR convincingly to set up an intriguing semi-final between the two sides. reviews the first day of quarter-final action at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

Vietnam 0-1 Japan
Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai

With both sides playing at a mile a minute, you could not take your eyes off it. Impressively it was underdogs Vietnam who looked the more dangerous, too, with Nguyen Cong Phuong a livewire up front. A mix-up at the back almost gifted them an opener, but Japan held true. Their towering centre-backs of Maya Yoshida and Takehiro Tomiyasu then almost had them ahead – with the former seeing an effort ruled out after VAR assistance.

Takumi Minamino drew a stupendous save from Dang Van Lam on the stroke of the break and the Samurai Blue returned bolstered, finding a crucial extra gear. Ritsu Doan was a constant menace and fittingly won, then dispatched, the decisive penalty – this time aided by VAR. Vietnam were certainly not down and out after falling behind, but they couldn’t craft a clear chance to clinch an equaliser.

China PR 0-3 IR Iran
Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

This game could have exploded to life right from the off, were it not for goal-saving interventions at either end from Ramien Rezaien and Zheng Zhi. Iran’s opener ultimately came about from the superb Sardar Azmoun – a terror for China throughout – leaving Marcello Lippi cursing their earlier miss. A long and hopeful ball had Azmoun looking second best to reach it, but hesitant defending by Feng Xiaoting opened the door and, having nicked the ball, fed Mehdi Taremi for his third of the tournament.

His fourth should have followed but for an astonishing miss, but it wasn’t to prove decisive. Azmoun was again the catalyst for the second, harrying the Chinese backline into a mistake before rounding Yan Junling to take this one for himself. Junling denied Ehsan Haji Safi to keep hopes alive in the second half but Karim Ansarifard pounced in the dying moments for a deserved third.

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