Ja­pan reach Asian Cup knock­outs as Qatar hit North Korea for six

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - SPORT -

Abu Dhabi, united Arab Emi­rates (AFP) — Genki haraguchi smashed home a con­tro­ver­sial penalty as for­mer cham­pi­ons Ja­pan scraped a 1-0 win over Oman to book their place in the last 16 of the Asian Cup yes­ter­day.

Ear­lier, Al­moez Ali plun­dered four goals for Qatar as the 2022 World Cup hosts hit North Korea for six to progress from Group E.

Ja­pan, who have scooped Asian foot­ball’s big­gest prize on four oc­ca­sions, en­joyed their share of good for­tune against Oman in Abu Dhabi.

Haraguchi clipped the cross­bar af­ter just two min­utes be­fore Takumi Mi­namino fluffed a hand­ful of golden op­por­tu­ni­ties.

That profli­gacy al­most came back to haunt the “Samu­rai Blue” as Oman flooded for­ward and Muh­sen Al-ghas­sani shaved the post from an acute an­gle.

But Haraguchi set­tled Ja­pan’s nerves in the 28th minute, con­vert­ing from the spot af­ter he had ap­peared to go down eas­ily un­der min­i­mal con­tact from Oman cap­tain Ahmed Al-ma­hai­jri.

Oman had ex­tra rea­son to feel ag­grieved when their own penalty claims were waved away just be­fore half-time, af­ter Yuto Na­gatomo looked to have han­dled a Salaah Al-yahyaei drive.

Ja­pan reached the knock­out stages of last year’s World Cup but they squeaked past Turk­menistan 3-2 in their open­ing Group F game and were poor against Oman, who al­most equalised when Raed Saleh’s ac­ro­batic late vol­ley flashed wide.

Qatar’s 6-0 romp over North Korea was played out in an al­most eery si­lence in front of barely 300 spec­ta­tors in Al Ain.

In the day’s late kick-off, El­dor Sho­murodov bagged a first-half brace as Uzbek­istan crushed Turk­menistan 4-0, in a clash of for­mer Soviet re­publics, to progress and go top of Group F ahead of Ja­pan on goal dif­fer­ence.

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