Japan advanced to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup on Wednesday after defeating Bahrain 3-1, continuing its quest for a record-tying fifth Asian Cup victory.
After suffering an unexpected 2-1 setback to Iraq in the group stage, the pre-tournament favorite recovered to face either Iran or Syria in the next round.
Bahrain’s lone hope came from a goal by Zion Suzuki, but Japan’s progress to the final eight was assured by goals from Ritsu Doan, Takefusa Kubo, and Ayase Ueda.
As the victor of Group E, Bahrain had gone over South Korea, another pre-tournament favorite. Given that Japan finished second in Group D and was a four-time winner, it may have thought it unlucky to play them in the round of 16.
When Seiya Maikuma’s long-range attempt deflected against the post and Doan scored on the rebound, Japan took the lead in the 31st minute.
Four minutes into the second half, Kubo whirled and finished close to double the lead.
In the 64th, Suzuki deflected a strong header from Sayed Baqer into the air, giving Bahrain a chance to rally. The ball was fumbled into the net as the Japan goalie attempted to catch it and collided with Ayase, who was trying to head clear off the goal-line.
Eight minutes later, Ayase beat Bahraini goalkeeper Ebrahim Lutfalla with a low shot at the near post to give Japan a two-goal lead again.
Roberto Mancini, the coach of Saudi Arabia, expressed regret for leaving the field early during his team’s defeat against South Korea in a penalty shootout.Without observing Hwang Hee-chan’s game-winning penalty kick that sent South Korea to the quarterfinals 4-2 on penalties and set up a matchup with Australia for Friday, Mancini turned and went to the locker room.
Mancini responded, “I apologize for this; I thought it was finished.” “I want to thank all of my players for what they did. I didn’t want to (disrespect) anyone.” They have much improved.
In the ninth minute of stoppage time, Cho Gue-sung headed in an equalizer to cause his team to lose a 1-0 lead. Mancini, who won the European Championship as Italy’s coach in 2021, witnessed this happen.
After extra time at Education City Stadium, the score was still tied. South Korean goalie Jo Hyeon-woo then stopped penalties from Sami Al Naji and Abdulrahman Ghareeb.
Mancini remarked, “I don’t understand 10 minutes extra (stoppage) time, so when you lose a penalty shootout or concede a goal in the last minute, it makes me very sad.” “But I’m glad because we worked together for a month, which was incredibly beneficial, and we progressed as a team and as individuals. We are a team now.