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Iraq Wins a Five-goal Thriller to Advance Japan to the Asian Cup Quarterfinals

After already qualified Iraq prevailed in a thrilling five-goal match, Japan easily advanced to the Asian Cup last 16 and a potential meeting with South Korea on Wednesday. Japan, the pre-tournament favorites, defeated Indonesia 3-1 to finish runners-up in Group D, thanks to goals from Ayase Ueda in each half and an own goal late in the game.

Japan will now play South Korea’s group, the winners of Group E. South Korea, under Jurgen Klinsmann, will play Malaysia on Thursday in their final group game. They are currently second in the group behind Jordan on goal differential. Coach Hajime Moriyasu made eight changes to his starting lineup, including bringing in a completely new defense, after Japan’s shocking 2-1 loss to Iraq. He continued to have faith in goalie Zion Suzuki, who was racially disparaged online following the game despite his faults against Iraq. However, Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma, who is still recovering from injury, was left out of the matchday squad for the third straight game.

After a VAR check determined that Indonesian defender Jordi Amat had pulled down Ueda in the box, Japan was given a penalty in the sixth minute. The striker for Feyenoord picked himself up and beat goalie Ernando Ari with the penalty kick.

Seven minutes after the break, Ritsu Doan broke through the Indonesian defense down the wing, and Ueda was there to tap in his low cross to double Japan’s lead. In the 88th minute, Ueda attempted to complete a hat-trick, and his effort forced Justin Hubner, an Indonesian defender, to shoot the ball into his own goal.

In the ninetieth minute, Sandy Walsh volleyed home from close range to provide Indonesia some comfort. They placed third in the group and will find out if they advance as one of the top four third-place teams on Thursday, when the first round ends.

Hussein twofold

Iraq, the 2007 champions who had already won the group, beat 10-man Vietnam 3-2 after scoring in injury time in the twelfth minute. Aymen Hussein led the tournament in goals scored with five, having scored twice, including the game-winning penalty kick at the end.

Three minutes prior to halftime, Bui Hoang Viet Anh gave Vietnam the lead by poking home a free kick from Khuat Van Khang. Khuat was substituted for a second yellow card in first-half stoppage time, marking his final significant attacking appearance.

Shortly after the restart, Hussein, who had come on as a substitute, made it 2-1 after Rebin Sulaka had equalized. At the stroke of the ninetieth minute, Nguyen Quang Hai scored a goal to tie the score at 2-2 and make Hussein look foolish for having missed a penalty. However, Vietnam awarded another penalty far into extra time, and Hussein was successful this time. AFP

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