Two stunning goals from Almoez Ali and Abdulaziz Hatem in the first 30 minutes of the match and a third by Akram Afif in the second half helped Qatar to down four-time champions Japan 3-1 on way to their maiden Asian Cup title.
Today at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, The Maroons, who have been the standout team of the tournament, struck first in the12th minute of the match through tournament top scorer and striking superstar Almoez.
The Annabi’s went into the half time break leading 2-0.
Coach Felix Sanchez side consolidated the lead 15 minutes later through another marvelous finish from Hatem to take an early hold over the proceedings.
Both teams took the cautious approach in the first ten minutes. Like most of the big matches start, none of these two sides have had a clear shot at goal in the initial stage of the match.
Almoez came with an unbelievable goal, fitting goal for the occasion.
The 22-year-ol, who has been a revelation of the tournament, once again proved why he has been unstoppable and his mere presence around the box makes life difficult for defenders.
Almoez scored his 9th goal of the tournament with an overhead kick to put Qatar 1-0 up against Japan off a move started by Akram Afif.
Almoez, after receiving the ball from Afif juggles with the ball twice while holding off the defender with his back to goal and essayed an overhead kick which ended at the far corner of the net away from the reach of Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.
Almoez’s ninth goal thus broke Ali Daei’s long-standing record with his superb strike.
Qatar increased the lead through Hatem, who curls one in from distance.
It was another stunning long-range effort which helped Qatar double their lead against Japan.
A slick build-up move found Hatim at the edge of the penalty box, and he makes space and unfurls a curler into the far corner.
A move that started off patiently from the Qatar back line gathered pace and incision as the ball found itself to Hatim’s feet. The Japanese defenders back away, and that allows him to find the time and space needed to send the ball curling past Gonda’s outstretched arm.
Beautiful strike and a worthy second after Ali’s stunning first goal.
In the35th minute Qatar attacked the Japan goal once again and almost went three up. However, captain Hassan Al Haydos try struck the post from close.
Japan started the second half entirely on the front foot and threw men forward – a tactic that paid dividends as Takumi Minamino finds the net to make it 2-1 on the night.
Takumi Minamino broke free of the solid Qatar back line after collecting a Yuya Osako pass and produced a clever dink over Saad Al Sheeb to pull one goal back for Japan.
Japan has pinned Qatar in the second half and it’s been one unrelenting wave of attack after the next. Eventually, the Qatar backline had to yield in the 69th minute.
And it’s the first goal Qatar has conceded in the tournament.
Qatar took the match away with a third goal in the 83rd minute.
Ten minutes to go for the match the VAR was called in for a possible handball by Yoshida in the Japan box. And the review saw referee pointing to the spot kick to effectively take the game away from Japan.
Afif converted his penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner. Afif steps up and sends Shuichi Gonda the wrong way. 10 assists and now, 1 goal for the talented forward.
Qatar walked away with a cash prize of $5,000,000.
By Armstrong Vas