Japan shock Saudis

AFP
January 22,2019

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SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates: Takehiro Tomiyasu’s lone strike sent Saudi Arabia crashing out of the Asian Cup as Japan beat the three-time champions 1-0 to reach the quarterfinals on Monday.

Tomiyasu’s first-half header was enough to seal it for Japan as the last-16 game between two teams with seven titles between them failed to live up to its billing.Japan, record four-time winners of the Asian Cup, march on to a quarterfinal with Southeast Asian champions Vietnam despite not yet hitting top form at the tournament.

Saudi Arabia were in the ascendancy early on but it was Japan who snatched the advantage with a straightforward goal from a set piece on 20 minutes. From a corner, Belgium-based defender Tomiyasu climbed above his marker and nodded firmly into the bottom corner for his first of the tournament. The Saudis twice came close with headers as they strived for a way back, and Hatan Bahbri curled one just off-target as he went for the top corner.

Yoshinori Muto’s shot was blocked on the hour-mark but most of the chances were falling to Saudi Arabia, who will rue some wasteful finishing. Bahbri’s shot from outside the box crept narrowly wide and Ali Al-Bulaihi powered a strong header over when the ball was knocked back into the area after a free-kick.But despite a late flurry it remained another goalless outing for the Saudis, who haven’t hit the net since scoring six goals in their first two group games.

Lippi says China need ‘more focus’ ahead of Iran clash: Marcello Lippi said China need to learn how to focus for an entire game ahead of their crunch Asian Cup quarterfinal with Iran, the biggest — and possibly last — game of his tenure. The Italian World Cup-winning coach hailed his players after they overcame Thailand 2-1 to reach the last eight, saying they had proved they were among the best in Asia. But Lippi, 70, said China still had a habit of drifting in and out of games after another Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in which they trailed 1-0 midway through the second half. “Chinese players have to improve psychologically,” said Lippi, who is expected to leave China after the Asian Cup following two-and-a-half years at the helm.

“Sometimes they need to be much more focused and concentrated and pay more attention during the game. It’s a psychological thing. “It’s very important to have the same intensity, the same determination from the beginning of the game.” China were under the cosh against Thailand on Sunday until Lippi switched his formation at half-time, turning the tables as they swamped the Thais for much of the second period.


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