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AFC Asian Cup

  • January 17, 2011
  • • 13:15
  • • Ahmed bin Ali Stadium (Al-Rayyan Stadium), Umm al-Afā'ī
  • Referee: R. Irmatov
  • • Attendance: 2022
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Saudi Arabia 0-5 Japan: Okazaki Hat-Trick Helps Blue Samurai Ease Into Quarters

Saudi Arabia 0-5 Japan: Okazaki Hat-Trick Helps Blue Samurai Ease Into Quarters

Japan secured a place in the quarter-finals at a canter against a disinterested Saudi Arabian side who had already been eliminated.

In front of a sparse crowd of just over 2000, Asian giants Japan booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup courtesy of a convincing 5-0 victory over a disinterested Saudi Arabian team, who had nothing but pride to play for.

Japan opened the scoring in just the eighth minute and it was thanks to a player whom many felt should have been in the starting eleven right through the tournament. Yasuhito Endo lifted the ball over the static Saudi defence, who gave up once they had been played out of the game. Shinji Okazaki was the benficiary, lifting the ball over goalkeeper Walid Abdullah before adding a final touch to make sure of the goal.

It took the Blue Samurai a mere four minutes to double their lead in a move, which saw new Stuttgart signing Okazaki combine with an established Bundesliga star in Shinji Kagawa. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder delivered a pinpoint right-footed cross from the left onto the head of Okazaki, who had ghosted in at the far post unmarked, and the number nine did the rest.

By now the Japanese were in full flow and they added a third goal in the eighteenth minute. Left-back Yuto Nagatomo outpaced Abdullah Shuhaul down Japan's left-hand side before delivering a testing ball into the penalty box, which was met by Ryoichi Maeda, whose deft touch took it past Abdullah.

The impressive Maeda doubled his personal tally six minutes into the second-half, also scoring Japan's fourth in the process. Okazaki sent Masahiko Inoha clear down the right-hand side on the overlap and the substitute right-back found the run of Maeda at the near-post. The Jubilo Iwata striker beat Abdullah to the near-post cross and headed home into the vacant net.

Former S-Pulse striker Okazaki completed a deserved hat-trick with ten minutes of normal time remaining. He received the ball from Maeda before brilliantly turning on a sixpence, getting the ball out from underneath his feet and smashing the ball past a helpless Abdullah. It was his third treble for his country, with his others coming against Togo and Hong Kong however, this one will undoubtedly mean the most.

As expected, Japan finish top of Group B ahead of Jordan and face hosts Qatar in the quarters while the Green Falcons finish bottom with three defeats.

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