ABU DHABI, Feb 1, 2019, Kyodo. Qatar foiled Japan’s bid for a record-extending fifth AFC Asian Cup title on Friday, winning the tournament for the first time in a 3-1 upset, reported the Kyodo.
Despite reaching the final at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium without conceding a goal, the Qataris were considered a long shot against the East Asian heavyweights.
But the first-time finalists went into the break with a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Almoez Ali and Abdelaziz Hatim.
Sudanese-born striker Ali entered the record books with his ninth goal of the tournament in the United Arab Emirates, eclipsing the eight scored by Iranian great Ali Daei in the 1996 edition.
Japan looked to have the momentum when Takumi Minamino pulled a goal back in the 69th minute, but Akram Hassan Afif sealed the match from the penalty spot with seven minutes remaining after video replays showed Japan captain Maya Yoshida committing a handball in the box.
The loss was the first for Japan since being knocked out of last summer’s World Cup round of 16 in a 3-1 loss to Belgium. It was also their first loss under manager Hajime Moriyasu, who took the reins following the World Cup.