Japan crowned Asian Cup champion

Japan crowned Asian Cup champion
# 30 January 2011 00:30 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Japan has defeated Australia thanks to a late solo goal to win the 2011 Asian Cup title and is now the most successful team in the history of the games, APA reports quoting Press TV.

Substitute Tadanari Lee sent a spectacular left-foot volley past Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the second period of extra time of the final to clinch the championship for the Blue Samurais at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.

The teams were tied 0-0 at the end of the first half. After the break, Australia put pressure on Japan and almost took the lead on 49 minutes when Luke Wilkshire’s cross hit the bar and Tim Cahill tried to bundle in the rebound, but the second half finished scoreless too, sending the game into extra time.

After one period of extra time with no goals, midway into the second period of extra time, when almost everyone was readying for penalty kicks, Lee stole the glory and shattered Australia’s dream of a first-ever title.

Japan’s Yuto Nagamoto found Lee unmarked at the back post and sent a cross into the box and the 25-year-old sealed the victory with his first international goal.

The victory was Japan’s fourth Asian Cup triumph. They also won the title in 1992, 2000, and 2004.

Both sides played cautious football, but there were several scoring opportunities during the match. Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima pulled off many excellent saves.

"It is a great victory. We have a really great team. They were united and won the title against such strong opponents," said Japan’s Italian coach, Alberto Zaccheroni.

Australia’s German coach, Holger Osieck, was also proud of his players despite the excruciating loss.

"It was the only position mistake we made and it was a very costly one," Osieck said.

"We are disappointed that we ended up second. We had our opportunities, but unfortunately we couldn’t convert. We had to be more clinical in our finishing. I feel sorry for the boys. They didn’t get the reward for all their efforts," he added.