The silky playmaker was the star of the show as the Blue Samurai progress...Two goals from Borussia Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa sent Japan into the semi-finals of the Asian Cup with a 3-2 over Qatar, eliminating the resilient hosts in Doha.
The cultured attacking midfielder twice cancelled out efforts from the Maroons, who were a man to the good for the final half hour, but Masahiko Inoha's last-gasp winner sent the Blue Samurai through in dramatic circumstances.
The tournament hosts took an early lead, albeit in controversial circumstances. Sebastian Soria ran clear of the Japanese back line from seemingly an offside position, before cutting inside and sliding the ball through the legs of Eiji Kawashima.
It did not take long for the Japan to restore parity. Shinji Okazaki created space and tried to lob the ball over the advancing Qasem Burhan, and as the ball broke Kagawa was in the right place to nod the ball into the net.
But Qatar were not ready to let their more illustrious opponents take control of the match, and just after the hour match they took the lead once again.
Maya Moshida picked up his second booking, conceding the free kick that led to the Fabio Cesar finding space in the area to bundle the ball into the net, and Qatar, with 27 minutes remaining, were a goal and a man to the good.
But Japan showed their quality in the closing stages, and were able to turn the topsy-turvy tie I their favour. Seven minutes later Kagawa, who was fantastic throughout the contest, waded through some poor defending to produce a refined finish into the net.
There was only one team likely to win the match in the final minutes, and Japan peppered the Qatar goal as they looked to avoid extra time.
And in the ninetieth minute, Kagawa was once again involved as the ball eventually broke to Inoha, who blasted the ball home from close range.
Qatar will feel they passed up a superb chance to progress to the semi-finals, but in the end Kagawa’s class ensured a clash with either Iran or South Korea in the last four.
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