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AFC Asian Cup

  • January 13, 2011
  • • 16:15
  • • Suheim Bin Hamad Stadium (Qatar SC Stadium), ad-Dōha (Doha)
  • Referee: M. Torki
  • • Attendance: 10453

Asian Cup 2011: Syria 1-2 Japan: Late Honda Penalty Wins It For 10-Man Samurai Blue

Asian Cup 2011: Syria 1-2 Japan: Late Honda Penalty Wins It For 10-Man Samurai Blue

Japan edged Syria to draw level with Jordan atop Group B in the Asian Cup.

Japan scraped past Syria in a lively Asian Cup match that saw each side have a player sent off. Makoto Hasebe put the Samurai Blue ahead on 35 minutes, but Firas Al Khatib restored parity from the penalty spot with a quarter hour left, in an event that saw Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima sent off. Shortly thereafter, Keisuke Honda won it for Japan after netting a penalty of his own.

Japan started the match well, and Ryoichi Maeda missed a clear chance to open the scoring on 11 minutes as he headed wide from Atsuto Uchida's cross.

Syria held their opponents well until Hasebe's opener, which was created thanks to a powerful run by Keisuke Honda, who drew three defenders before cutting back for Shinji Kagawa. After Kagawa's effort was parried, the captain Hasebe made no mistake as he fired a low drive into the net.

Hasebe's opener came moments after Yasuyuki Konno had nodded a corner on goal, and ended what had been a rather bright spell for the Syrians, who looked lively on the counterattack.

Japan were in full control as half-time was signalled, although unable to capitalise as Maeda had a 20-yard blast sail just wide of the left post.

Early in the second half, Maeda nearly added another, but was stopped by Nadim Sabag. Aside from that and a rather tame header from Syria defender Ali Dyab, chances were scarce.

The game heated up once more as Syria levelled under somewhat dubious circumstances. In the 71st minute, Kawashima was sent off after committing a foul on Sanharib Malki.

Moments before, the shot stopper had botched a clearance, and although the ball was played back in to the offside Malki, the ball was judged to have come off a defender. After prolonged protests from the Japanese players, Kawashima was replaced by Shusaku Nishikawa before Al Khatib slotted in the spot kick.

Though down to ten men, Japan battled back with renewed spirit. Honda had a fierce effort saved before substitute Shinji Okazaki earned a penalty from Belal Abduldaim, which Honda made no mistake in firing home what would prove to be the winner.

Al Khatib had a good effort saved shortly before full time, and it would prove to be Syria's last real threat of the game. Japan held possession well throughout injury time, and frustrated Syria to the point where Sabag was sent off for encroaching on a free kick.

The result sees Japan draw level with Jordan in Group B with four points from two matches. Syria remain on course to qualify, having earned three points.

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