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Sunday, 30 January 2011

Japan Clinch Asian Cup in Heart-stopping Thriller

Japan rode their luck, somewhat, in this game to win their fourth Asian Cup title and seal a place in the Confederations Cup. A textbook volley by Sanfrecce's Tadanari Lee early in the second period of Extra Time, seeing a valiant effort by Australia end in heartbreak.

Australia proved worthy finalists, as they tested Japan more effectively than any of the the other teams they faced, and indeed should really have won this game if they had been able to finish off their moves. They had much the better of the game, but by the time Eiji Kawasahima had made his second brilliant stop at the feet of Harry Kewell in the second half, you felt it was never going to be their day. So it proved as a pin-point cross found Lee in acres of space, and he sent his perfectly struck volley arrowing into the net.

Grampus new boy, Jungo Fujimoto, starting his first game of the finals, had a poor game and was replaced by Daiki Iwamaasa early in the second half. Not surprisingly, he looked a bit off the pace, and had few opportunities to show his attacking quality. This was true of the whole Japan team, which was curiously subdued for much of the game. The crisp passing and probing runs that had highlighted their play in this tournament was missing and they clearly missed the spark provided by the injured Shinji Kagawa.

Other Views

Japan Times: Lee stunner gives Japan Asian Cup

Asahi News: Lee's strike secures title for Samurai Blue

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